“Water Words” is the debut album from Bay Area non-binary artist Asha Wells.
Musically inclined since childhood, Asha Wells’ journey started with classical vocal performance and musical theater before moving on to riot grrl punk and jazz folk.
Born in the San Francisco Bay Area, Asha relocated to Salt Lake City with their family, finding a home in the city’s all ages underground music scene.
Arriving back in San Francisco after a stint traveling in Central and South America, their sound took a genre-expanding turn that reflects their colorful music history.
Inspired by the likes of Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, and Jeff Buckley, Asha found themselves experimenting with open guitar tunings and atmospheric textures paired with thought-provoking imagery.
Most of the songs on “Water Words” were written during a particularly tumultuous stretch of time at the beginning of a new relationship.
Asha's track notes - see below for track notes, lyrics and to hear the album - mention Joni Mitchell's California, Francoise Sagan's Bonjour Tristesse (Hello Sadness), and Linda Perhacs.
Working with co-producer Jason Kick at his Tunnel Vision studio in Oakland, the pair recorded 1 to 2 songs a week at the height of the pandemic. Kick brought his knack for arrangement synthesis and drum programming, helping to create a supportive environment for Asha's atmospheric guitars and haunting melodies.
The resulting album blends textured sounds and tender harmonies, calling to mind the work of contemporary singer-songwriters like Aldous Harding, Hand Habits, and Cate Le Bon, as much as torchbearers like Patti Smith, Cat Power, or Fiona Apple.
David Glasebrook mixed and mastered the album at his studio, working with Asha to create an immersive experience for the listener.
Atmospheric album opener At Night sounds like it drifted in on some Lynchian dream performed at the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks, while lead single Mood Indigo - hear it below - not the Duke Ellington composition - explores jazz-folk melodies and experimental percussion.
Album centerpiece Blue Angels, and Drugstore Perfume, explore the space, the liminal space, of a burgeoning relationship, while closing track Motorbike sees the listener taking off on the road for a destination unknown, like whispers in the night...
- Asha Wells - Vox, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keys, percussion
- Jack Brown - Bass, guitar, 12-string guitar, vibraphone
- Jason Kick - Bass, guitar, keys, vibraphone
- Produced by Jason Kick & Asha Wells
- Additional production by Jack Brown
- Engineering by Jason Kick
- Recorded at Tunnel Vision, Oakland, CA
- Mixed & mastered by David Glasebrook
- Words and music by Asha Wells © 2023
- Artwork by Stephanie Kuse
Photos: Sarah Phenix
Mood Indigo single: March 8th, 2023
Blue Angels / Drugstore Perfume single: March 24th, 2023
"Water Words" US/Canada album release date: March 31st, 2023
"Water Words" UK/EU release date: September 15th, 2023
Label: Royal Oakie
Album formats: DIgital, CD, Cassette