V. Contreras, V. Contreras (out now, self-released, musicofv.com)
Already known as the powerhouse vocalist behind the Seattle Rock Orchestra, V. Contreras—full name Victoria Wimer Contreras— proves she’s a lot more than that on this debut. A perfect mix of easy listening and soulful grit, her 12-track collection is unique in its blend of classic Motown sensibilities with Contreras’ edgier, more rock-leaning tendencies. Led by the punchy single “Gasoline,” Contreras’ poignant storytelling and sultry delivery is hard to forget: “I know that gaze/Your hands in the flame/And you just beg for gasoline/ And I deny the blame for letting you fall/You love the f**king crazy in me.” Even so, Contreras is at her best on songs like “This Ain’t Love” or “Hollow,” which show a softer, more intimate side of her range. Produced by Martin Feveyear (Brandi Carlile, Blue Scholars, Duff McKagan’s Loaded), and chock-full of soaring string and horn arrangements by Andrew Joslyn (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis), there’s no limit to the textures you’ll hear throughout V. Contreras. Ultimately, the album is unified by the journey of love in all its different shapes and forms. But it’s the unexpected turns, the endless possibilities along the route, that make the listening experience so enjoyable.