Vienna Teng's fourth album, Inland Territory, is a tour de force musically and lyrically, a complex and deeply thoughtful work from an artist cut loose from limitations. Recorded with producer Alex Wong (Ari Hest, The Paper Raincoat) over five months and in four cities, with instrumentation ranging from foot stomps to vintage keyboards to full string orchestra, it's without question her most ambitious work yet.
Now 32, the songwriter, singer and pianist has released three critically acclaimed albums, landing her on three Billboard charts and in Amazon.com's top ten. She regularly sells out theaters across the U.S. and Europe. Fans travel hundreds of miles to catch a single show, and her opening sets for the likes of India.Arie, Joan Baez and Madeleine Peyroux end in standing ovations. Mere months after quitting her job as a software engineer in 2002, she was interviewed on NPR, and performed on The Late Show with David Letterman. He declared that he'd listened to her entire debut album and that there was "not a dud" on it. Her brand of sophisticated, piano-driven pop has been gathering accolades ever since: "seductive and transcendent" (Amazon.com), "gorgeously conceived... accomplished yet understated" (Paste), "singular among her peers" (Variety).
"People used to ask what kind of music I played and I never knew how to answer that," says pianist Teng. "I work a lot with classically trained musicians, but most of my influences are from 1970's-era folk music. So now I call it chamber folk."