Shauwn Viljoen is a human being I deeply admire and respect. I do ask for his advice on a variety of matters. He also happens to be an Emeritus Associate Professor at UCT. These are his thoughts. Although I speak Music to him, he only rcently heard the album in its entirety.
Auriol involved me, as well as many others, in the role of sounding board for the conceptualization and development of her new album called Silk and Gravel (2022). I am always fascinated by how her creativity feeds on deeply personal encounters and desires, as well as draws on wide research on the work of female singers/composers, giving her compositions and performances both a lyrical and emotional depth that stirs the listener/audience.
This “emoting”, like in the singing of Sathima Bea Benjamin, is distinctive and often most moving, and for me is the “gravel”, cabaret dimension of Silk and Gravel. She combines this quality with a silky smoothness in some songs or parts of song that is quite the contrary to this edginess, almost as if she were two singers.
I think Silk and Gravel is her best work by far, and unusual in that every single song is excellent in composition and execution; it is an exceptional work.