Music » Livewire

Vienna Teng

With Ellery. Tuesday, September 12, at the Beachland Ballroom.

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Given the state of the industry, leaving a well-paying day job to pursue a music career seems counterintuitive. But that's exactly what Stanford grad Vienna Teng did. A software programmer at Cisco Systems, Teng tired of juggling code-writing and songwriting, and decided to focus solely on her piano and meditative coffeehouse pop a few years ago.

Teng's approach is a delicate one. She comes across as more complex and less angst-ridden than Paula Cole or Fiona Apple, yet more sentimental and less baroque than Tori Amos. Her quirky and elegant sound has made her partnership with the Zoe/Rounder label -- home to Cowboy Junkies, the Tragically Hip, and Duncan Sheik -- a perfect fit. (Sadly, Sheik has dropped off this bill.)

Her latest effort, Dreaming Through the Noise, features graceful, poetic imagery and songs like "Blue Caravan," "Transcontinental, 1:30 AM" and "Pontchartrain," which belie a past of self-described "tech-geekdom." Alongside KT Tunstall and Corinne Bailey Rae, Vienna Teng is a breath of fresh air for anyone sick to death of prefabricated pop.

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