odessa chen
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odessa chen

San Francisco, California, United States | SELF

San Francisco, California, United States | SELF
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter




"Pacific Time: Odessa Chen Singer Songwriter"

Odessa Chen is a singer-songwriter with an attractive face, a dreamy voice, and a name you won't forget. She was born to a Shanghainese father and a working-class mother from a Southern city called Whiteville. But her songs aren't about ethnic identity, and she is drawing audiences from both in and outside the Asian American community. - NPR

"Odessa's Palace"

Her voice is haunting, a high, sweet whisp of sound, sometimes no more than a whisper. Oaklander Odessa Chen’s instrument lingers in the mind long after her origional songs have told their tales of love, regret, longing, and death. - East Bay Express

"Odessa Chen"

Odessa Chen is a rare talent, simply stated. She has the songwriting and lyric-crafting chops to send shivers up and down the spine of listeners, and her voice is truly a thing if sheer beauty. Chen shows on The Ballad of Paper Ships that the genius of her debut was no fluke. In actuality, she's come into her own with The Ballad of Paper Ships, writing, producing, and performing a spectacular and shimmering work of intensity. Stunningly executed, The Ballad of Paper Ships is a wondrous CD, and well worth the four year wait. Chen is a true artist in a day when songcraft and performance have given way to gaudy production tricks and image. Fans of Low, Cat Power, Early Day Miners' most haunting and subtle moments, and Jeff Buckey take note…you have a new hero in Odessa Chen.
- Somewhere Cold

"Hot List August 2008"

No text. - 7x7 Magazine

"MTV U is proud to present the delightful discovery of Odessa Chen."

MTV U is proud to present the delightful discovery of Odessa Chen. Having already worked with artists such as Wilco's Nels Cline and on the heels of acclaim for her newest album The Ballad of Paper Ships, Chen already has a new record planned for the upcoming hear. She continues to prove herself an unstoppable force with one powerful voice. - MTV U Ahead of the Curve

"what to do this week"

Hyperliterate songsmith Odessa Chen, brings deceptive strength to fragile solo arrangements, taking cues from pensive rockers like Low and Cat Power. (She) plays stark, acoustic tunes with all the grace and drama of Kristin Hersh. - Flavorpill

"Odessa Chen : One Room Palace Review"

Odessa Chen’s self-released One Room Palace is different, special and shiny. It’s lonely, autumnal music, often quiet but with deep reserves of raw emotion... by George Zahora - Devil in the Woods Issue 17

"On the Cover of Play Guitar Magazine Summer 2005"

When Odessa Chen, who fronts her own trio, was shopping for her electric guitar, she says, “I brought a cassette player to the store with me and taped how I sounded playing the guitars. Then I went out in the alley and listened to them all to figure out which sounded the best.” She chose the 1960s Gibson ES-120, inscribed with Detroit rocker George Thorogood’s signature, that she’s playing on the cover of the Summer 2005 issue of Play Guitar! - Play Guitar Magazine

"Odessa Chen : One Room Palace Review"

Odessa Chen’s ?rst, self-released album, One Room Palace, is a meteorological phenomenon. It is a spooky, stormy, sonically impressive debut from a singer-songwriter with something seriously heavy weighing on her chest. This is the type of gloom that’s been missing from the pop music landscape for some time now, the kind Mazzy Star gave us...captivating, tender, beautiful. - Venus Magazine / Sleater Kinney Cover

"odessa chen leaves her music open to interpretation"

Ambiguity and surprising connections in Chen's lyrics keep listeners riveted. On "Harm," a "cupful of tears" leads to a desire "to sleep beneath the surface of the water."
On the title track, lovers part like oyster shells and clouds, or rock "like boats, anchored/to go, to sail with abandon," while memories are "bits of paper/blown around the streets at night" and "ghosts casting nets."
A student of poetry, Chen gets the most out of her literary images, finding unity in unusual places. Combined with spare instrumentation and a haunting voice — part Hope Sandoval–narcotic, part sensitive-strong Shannon Wright — her dreamscapes evoke a complex depth of feeling. - SF Weekly


Archives of the Natural World 2011
The Ballad of Paper Ship 2007
One Room Palace 2003

with Thee More Shallows : More Deep Cuts



Odessa Chen has been described as unique, intelligent, and haunting. Aspects of folk, classical choral music, and indie rock converge in songs of love, longing, and displacement.

Recently featured on MTV U’s Ahead of the Curve, her music also inspired choreographers Janice Garret and Charlie Moulton (Peter Gabriel, Aimee Mann) to produce a work that resulted in ten sold out performances at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts where Odessa performed with 23 dancers, string quartet, drums, and piano.

Wilco's Nels Cline, Xiu Xiu's Devin Hoff, and Jolie Holland’s Roger Riedlebauer have all contributed to her recordings.

Touring internationally, Odessa has been featured on NPR, MTV U, and MTV Chi, and her music has appeared in many commercials and independent ?lms.

Described as intelligent and haunting, Odessa's pure voice, accomplished lyrics, and unusual ?nger-picking guitar style, has drawn comparisons to Jeff Buckley, Neko Case, and Cat Power.