Thao Nguyen's solo work was put on hold for much of 2011 when she teamed up with indie songstress Mirah to write and record Thao & Mirah, a collaborative, fun effort that married their styles of music-making. Equipped with a new sense of introspective songwriting, Nguyen releases her third album, We the Common, her first in four years. This is Nguyen's strongest work yet, with the aforementioned songwriting taking a leap forward, while gradually perfecting her melting pot sound of country, folk and pop. The title track opens the album with a heavy banjo riff that ushers in an unexpected wave of synths and a joyous chant of a chorus. It's this quirky equation of instruments — horns mingle with xylophones, heavy bass lines are paired with featherweight keyboards — and the laidback cadence of Nguyen's raspy voice that create intrigue and excitement all over We the Common, as with her previous releases. Even straightforward tracks like the sunshine pop of single "Holy Roller" shines, as she simply declares that all she wants is "love in the aftermath." Another highlight is "Kindness Be Conceived," a slice of warm Americana featuring Nguyen and Joanna Newsom together, performing the best harmonies on the record. Whether collaboratively or on her own, Nguyen has spent the past few years gearing up as folk-pop force and has left us selfishly wanting even more.
Read our exclusive interview with Thao Nguyen here.