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  • Jonathan Widran

XUAN, Have Some Fun

Unapologetically dark, edgy and raw yet delightfully soft, fizzy and fluffy, Xuan is a young rising Dallas based singer-songwriter who seems to enjoy being ensconced in an 80’s synth pop funhouse even as she’s belting things out in a garage rock atmosphere.

The daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, this bundle of magical salty yet sugar coated contradictions felt like she needed more to feed her artistic spirit than life in the ‘burbs, so she hightailed it to her homeland, where she hosted a TV show, traveled around Southeast Asia and Australia and moved to Ireland. During her time in Ireland, she was inspired to start writing by her then-boyfriend – and once you get hooked on her whimsical pop confections, you may just want to seek him out to thank him for unleashing her free for all musical spirit.

Performing an open mic back home, she hooked up with producer Salim Nourallah (Old 97s, The Damnwells, Rhett Miller) and was off to the races. From the get go on the synth swirling strokes inspired opener “Not the Man,” there’s no getting around the thinness and slight atonality of her vocals. Yet somehow they mesh well with the offbeat, swirling production – and at times, as on the circus-y lightweight rocker “I Wanna Know You,” her voice is heard through cool fuzzy filters.

The focus is on vibe, and Xuan and Nourallah have crafted a brilliant sound that’s the musical equivalent of a sweet puff pastry dipped in a bit of garlic. On tunes like “Big Blue Ocean,” your mind and soul will be swimming so deeply in the peppy, percussive swirls, the airy floating vocals may just pierce you deeply. That’s the power of charm at work, at Xuan has loads of it.

Other highlights include the steel Prince-influenced, dark guitar driven hypo-dance tune “Sheila,” and the soulful self-reflective closer “Night Drive,” a passionate pop-soul ballad that allows Xuan to dig a bit deeper vocally and assert her newfound confidence as an artist with something truly substantial to say.

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