Album Review – Paenda “Evolution II”

Now that the dust has firmly settled on the 64th  Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, I like to immerse myself into the work of the artists we’ve grown to know and love in the run up to Tel Aviv.  Do their entries represent them as a singer, or is there more to them?

Someone I completely fell in love with was Austria’s Gabriela Horn, otherwise known as Paenda. Her song “Limits” contained the most heartbreaking lyrics of all songs in the contest, and when I had a chance to meet her after her first rehearsal in Tel Aviv, I unashamedly fangirled throughout the interview! Sadly, she failed to qualify from semi final 2, finishing 17th with just 21 points.

In the run up to the contest, on April 26th, Paenda released “Evolution II”, the follow up to her debut 2018 album. The album contains 10 tracks, and if you think that she should be defined by the glorious “Limits” with its stripped back ballad feel, think again!

Evolution II – Tracks

I Like The Way You Hate Me
Paenda’s electro pop beats come to the fore here in this opening number, full of angst-filled lyrics against a person projecting their low esteem into hatred.
Stand out lyrics : “ You won’t make yourself a lot of friends By what you say on screen, You’d be better off if you learned how to cope with your low self-esteem”

Like A Domino
Starts off with a funky beat before Paenda’s clear vocals kick in, and the layers of electro bass and drums keep coming in. The song is about a love that you’re helpless to resist.
Stand out lyrics “It’s like I got amnesia the moment you’re near I get hit every time that you smile And I suddenly tend to forget our past and how much it had hurt the last time”

Filler
This is the one I can imagine on stage, Paenda gives us a gorgeous retro synth-led pop classic relaying the story of an unsatisfactory relationship.
Stand out lyrics “ You used me once, well, now you used me twice Now I pay the price for being stupid enough to believe in your lies”

Love Myself
Explicit alert.  Paenda’s angry now, this girl’s not for messing around, she’s no f*ck toy we are told.
Stand out lyrics “ And I always thought that I’m to blame for being dismissed but I’m better than that”

Limits
I don’t need to tell you anything about this track. I can see why it was chosen for Eurovision with it’s stripped back feel and heartbreaking story of depression overtaking everything.
Stand out lyrics “So I smile for a while, let the torture begin And the pressure on my chest becomes almost routine It’s not like I don’t care, but there’s nothing left to bare”

So Loud
Almost a tropical beat to Track 6, again we get loads of synth layers which enhance the strong vocals, relaying a story of an old love that could be rekindled.
Stand out lyrics “ Joking‘ bout how many times we’ve been down that road before I can’t believe when you’re looking at me, my heart still wants more”

All The Right Things
Paenda tells us here that it’s not all about relationships, sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time …. Another heavy beat-led offering, with a lot of interesting musicality included. 
Stand out lyrics “ Let’s skip the smalltalk Cause our body’s got enough to say, just for this one night we don’t question what games we might play”

Everything I’m Not
Another one that I could quite easily see transferred to the Eurovision stage, Paenda relays the story of a lover wanting to change her just a bit too much. It’s got a fantastic pre-chorus before the refrain crashes in.
Stand out lyrics “ And I know that you known what you want me to be Something you’d like to see, and I could change the frame but not what’s inside of me”

Wavebreaker
This one’s really interesting, lots of voice changing technology used as Paenda takes us through a journey with her sister, who she refers to as Shorty.
Stand out lyrics “ You make such bad jokes, but you are really wise And so much taller than your actual size”

Stay For The Night
Another cracking pop track, where Paenda tells us the story of holding on to a lover.  For me, it’s got Kate Bush vibes in its construction, and there’s no doubting it’s a solid end to a great album.
Stand out lyrics “ And now we’re here and I won’t let you leave again this time Just stay for the night”

There we have it, a complete album of light and shade. With Limits being the only true ballad in the selection, you would be very wrong in thinking that’s all there is to Gabriela Horn.  As she said herself during an interview with profil.at she has found herself as a human being and an artist.

Paenda has been touring over the summer, and will continue with more dates in Austria, Germany and Netherlands for the rest of the year, check out her Facebook page for full details

Listen to Evolution II on Spotify

Watch Paenda’s performance in the second semi final in Tel Aviv

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