Album Reviews

Aquariana: Aquariana (Drag City)

aquariana

Over the past few years, Drag City has served as the go-to archival label for The Source Family cult–a unique and peculiarly influential group that was devoted to health food, endless acid-rock jams, and their spiritual leader, Father Yod. This was no fringe organization; Father Yod owned The Source, a famous Hollywood vegetarian restaurant that catered to the celebrity set, and several members were quite well-known, including Dionne Warwick and Sky Saxon. Their beliefs may have been dodgy, but their music was much more impressive. This collection, made by a young woman named Aquariana, is perhaps one of the more impressive discoveries in the archives. She was one of Father Yod’s wives, as well as mother to one of his numerous children. What impresses here is that she possesses a powerful voice, one that recalls Carol King, Laura Nyro, and Carly Simon. Husky, soulful, unique, her songs are deeply personal and loving, especially on “One Love” and “Walking Together,” and even though they’re sung to her husband and her enigmatic cult leader. Sure, one might find songs like “Oh My YaHoWa” and  and “Oh My Love” to be slightly disturbing–especially considering the latter is a call to make love to their spiritual leader–but even so, one cannot deny the beauty in her voice and the power of her songwriting. Aquariana never pursued a proper singing career, and it’s a shame–she had the ability to write good songs, and she had a beautiful voice. Still, this discovery adds an interesting glimpse into a unique California-based collective.

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