Thalia Zedek might be entering the fourth decade of her career as one of the most singular voices in rock, but she shows no signs of creative fatigue. Throughout the 80s she rose to prominence fronting Uzi and Live Skull, before founding Come with Chris Brokaw of Codeine in 1990. After Come called it a day in 2001, Zedek began making music under her own name to high acclaim. Via is Zedek s fourth solo album (and third on Thrill Jockey). It further cements Zedeks position as a bandleader, a songwriter, and as a pioneer who, like Kim Gordon, Kim Deal, Lydia Lunch, and Patti Smith, paved the way for so many others.
On Via, Zedek presents a collection of songs that range from the harrowing to the heartfelt. The opener Walk Away is a triumphantly melancholic exploration of living with ghosts, with Zedeks richly emotive voice augmented by David Michael Curry s gravelly viola and Mel Ledermans measured piano. Via also features some of Zedeks noisiest material in some time. Halfway through Want You To Know, Zedeks guitar erupts into a wash of fuzz, foreshadowing the climax of pounding drums and psychedelic soloing. Via is an album about recovery, loyalty, chance, and gratitude: universal themes that become stirring in Zedeks hands.
The album was written during two distinct sessions over the course of four years. The first set of songs was written during the period of touring after the release of Liars and Prayers with longtime drummer Daniel Coughlin, who was also in Come. After Coughlins departure from the band, Zedek recruited Son Volt drummer Dave Bryson, whose simple, spacious playing allowed her to stretch and experiment with new sounds and ideas. It was recorded by Andrew Schneider at New Alliance and Translator Audio in June and September of 2012. Via has a gravitational field, a magnetic pull brought on by the weight of the words and the mass of the sounds created. Regardless of her status as a pioneering woman in independent rock, Thalia Zedeks music stands on its own in its startling honesty.
As ever, Zedek specializes in thorny songs that unflinchingly address adult topics and full-grown problems, with the malleable backing of her guitar and band providing either momentary refuge or sympathetic cries of exasperation. --Pitchfork
Over jangling guitar and a weeping violin, Zedek sings like Bob Dylan fronting a late '80s college radio outfit, documenting a friend or lover's painful egress in gripping detail. Walk Away; is a beautiful song that bodes well for Via. --Spin
Via is full of concise guitar solo breaks, chunky drumming, and a sense of broad-stroked experimentation that previous efforts rarely touched. It feels more wide-awake than most anything longtime fans would associate with a star who, for the better part of her career, struck a permanently brooding pose. --Boston Globe