Azaima Anderson is a woman of the world, and her music reflects her spirit of inquiry and devotional practice. From the time her mother taught her how to harmonize and distinguish classical composers from one another at age five, she has loved singing, writing, playing and performing. Azaima’s music is lyric-driven. Drawing from her country, pop, folk, rock, blues and jazz influences, she selects the style that will best serve the story. She’s a unique talent with a lot to say. Azaima wrote the astrology column for a weekly newspaper for over ten years. She is certified to teach two styles of yoga, Kripalu and Kundalini. She trained as a shamanic practitioner in Mexico and Peru. Her world travels have given her an appreciation of many traditions, styles and customs. She is now an ordained interfaith minister who guides meditation and healing retreats at her Heart and Wings Retreat Center. This is her latest release “Untamed,” which explores many of our environments downfalls and shortcomings. In addition to her work as a performing songwriter and recording artist, Azaima is also proficient in the healing arts, having created her own healing modality called Heart Lightning that can remove long-held mental and emotional blocks in as little as one session. The CD starts off with the excellent country inspired “Who Decides” in which she stand her ground to express the importance of making her own decisions. You almost hear a rock artist brewing beneath the twangy backing track, but it never comes completely out. Instead she revisits it in a couple of places later. But the overall vibe is one of holding back in that department. This is all attitude making for a fine opener. The rock vibes continue to hang under the chorus on “Untamed Gila” but still get dominated by a country feel with some well-placed string on this folk heavy story. It’s amazing how she tells these messages without having to be too musically sung, leaving that all up to the lovely guitars, other strings and even some horns to boot.
“Second Chance” doesn’t ring as well with me, as it finds the low point with less to describe without being overly critical. But that is rectified instantly on “Love You Cause You’re Not Around” is very steeped in a holy sort of folk but balanced with an older more traditional country, and also where some pop leaning’s show, but in this case a very well-seasoned approach to that, rather than a youthful sort. This picks things back up and they’re sailing fine the rest of the way, with tracks like “Upside Down” and “Happy All Alone” which might sound more lyrically positive than they turn out to be, as they deal with the problems that can keep a woman down, as well as issues that bring everyone down as worldly concerns can. These are both great songs and go a long way to keep the messages comprehensive. “Dawning Over Swannanoa” is an epic track which requires more wrapping your head around, as she starts to go into territory not everyone might know where came from. This is where it gets harder to know what the song is about but garners little care for that was well because it’s such an interesting number with flutes and strings taking it the distance. The vocals here are sublime, something a few of the other tracks could benefit from but not anything lost over it. This is just really good stuff and would be a good place to start with Azaima’s work. A highly recommended listen. “Running Away” is probably the only misplaced track, as it sounds like it belongs on a previous or future album. But to give it a fair shake it’s a bubbly track that doesn’t offend over its misplacement. It’s just so detached from the vibe to be found throughout, it almost stand on its own two feet so well that it throws off the momentum a little. I can imagine this being performed at holiday parties or in a lounge with some piano to accompany it. Being out of place sometimes shrouds a track, sometimes gives it wings to take on a life all its own. This song manages to do a little of both. It’s not a disappointment, just an observation. I still like the track and it shaves no points for me. This is also the case with “Give It A Hurl” but it just works so much better, and back things go to a less serious mood without losing how the subject matter makes Azaima express herself. Once again she knocks it out of the park with just enough blend of humor and cynicism to pull off another great track. By this time I’m giving the music more to write home about than the vocals which only manage to really pop on about sixty percent of the tracks, but the lyrics make me substantially digress that performance to reach a higher appreciation for her voice. So, it all comes out in the wash for what it’s worth. This does very little to not prove itself on the final track which harks back to any earlier track to be found on the disc. “Swannanoa” is a beautifully arranged closer with some of the best vocals of the release. This is not the only time her voice shows its true powers, as mentioned, but it’s one example where it stands out and resonates unlike some of the others which only manage to nail the message and lack some melody in more of a spoken voice. But this and select others show that she has a killer falsetto but those tracks call for less vocal melody. You will love this final track but not miss all the greatness to be found on the other tracks either. But this might be a case of saving the best for last, with a few gems to choose from, gems that could just as easily take her product a long way.