I was editing a string of badly written stories for a local paper yesterday – thinking (hoping?) that the world would end in the next ten minutes – when I heard a guitar being played like I’ve not heard it being played for a very, very long time. I mean, it was like someone had learnt to cut through all the fluff and set about to play the damned instrument like it was meant to be played.
It could have been an asthma attack (or a heart attack) but I had trouble breathing just listening to how she played the guitar. Pardon my sexist inclinations, but how could a girl learn to play like that! No, her playing isn’t the million-notes-per-second virtuosity of Satriani, or the technical elegance of Di Meola, or the experimental brilliance of McLaughlin – it was nothing like that. It was more like – how shall I say this? – a warm, down-to-earth, coolness of an old soul who have been mending fractured hearts with her playing for a million years. She is that good!
A quick google told me that the guitar player in question was a young Malay girl who goes by the name of Yuna. And guess what! She sings in English, too. I mean, she really sings in English – not some half-assed attempts at it, mind you. This girl obviously speaks English at home and I wouldn’t be surprised if she spoke English before she could speak Malay. Her diction is just brilliant – no put-on American accent here, that’s for sure.
And I am at a loss for words to describe her music. It’s like listening to lyrics that are melodic and melodies that are lyrical. Musically, she is like sophisticated-but-understated-busker meets unpretentious-jazz-virtuoso; a cross perhaps between James Taylor and Wes Montgomery. It just blew me away! And of course, there’s her guitar playing: way too mature for her seemingly tender years. However, this singer-songwriter-guitar-player isn’t just about the tune, or just the lyrics, or just the playing – this girl is about the total package.
As you can see, Bangkai is obviously smitten (by her music, of course). This Yuna girl is like a breath of fresh air! She made me want to reach out for my Telecaster and start paying seriously again. And if I listen to her for long enough, I think I probably will. And as I stare at this photo of her I nicked off the Internet, I can’t help but drool as I ogle her curvy, white Gretsch (that’s her semi-acoustic guitar, folks). Now, that is a thing of beauty. No, I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on her Gretsch any day – even if only for a few minutes. But alas…
Listening to her work her guitar, I wonder what her version of ‘Rosie’ would be like. On second thoughts I’d better not know for fear of never getting enough of it. Girl, where were you when I was working the busking pitches at Tottenham Court Road and Marble Arch? I would have given my right arm to be able to jam for a few minutes with you.
Duh! You probably weren’t even born then…
Give this girl a listen, folks!