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Cool Spin – Vienna Teng, ‘Aims’ (Soltruna Records)

For her fifth studio album, singer/songwriter/keyboardist Vienna Teng has paired with producer/musician Cason Cooley to create a texturally rich and stylistically diverse album that’s heavier on electronics and sampling than her previous efforts, but is still carried by her pleasingly elastic vocals and compelling songwriting. This album is all about layers—of vocals, which are stacked to magnificent effect on many songs (and completely carry the a capella “The Hymn of Acxiom,” along with subtle electronic treatments), and both loops and instruments, from keys to guitars to strings (real and library versions), all used cleverly as building blocks to make certain passages soar and others to intrigue. There are many moods on this album—from tuneful excursions such as “Level Up” and “Landsailor” (featuring Glenn Phillips), to the grand ballad “Close to Home,” the electro percussion-driven “In the 99,” the quietly beautiful “Oh Mama No” and the gentle and affirming concluding track, “Goodnight New York.” There’s much variation in the production from song to song (and even within each song). Try headphones!

Producers: Teng, Cason Cooley. Engineers, Cooley, Buckley Miller, Bobby Shin. Mixing: Justin Gerrish. Studios: St. Cecilia (Nashville), Sound Emporium (Nashville), 178 Moultrie (Brooklyn). Mastering: Joe LaPorta/Sterling Sound (NY)