The family-friendly Tastes & Sounds Fall Crawl returns to the South Lake Avenue Business District Saturday, bringing with it a diverse musical lineup that includes Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Ximena Sariñana, rock duo Sunflower Bean, and LA pop artist Ella Vos.
Vos is an intriguing presence. Her 2018 debut album “Words I Never Said,” which produced the hit “White Noise,” addressed emotional topics like postpartum depression and, with the snappy “You Don’t Know About Me,” Trump’s infamous “Access Hollywood” tape (“You don’t know what you talk about/ It’s all lies that come out your mouth/ ’Cause I wake up, this is my body, this is my war”). Yet despite such weighty inspirations, Vos’ music often has a mood-sweetening effect. Her soprano is deceptive — ethereal and often breathy but resilient — and the rubbery beats, synths and electronic effects cushioning her melodies give depth to her diaristic songs.
She wrote and recorded the songs for what became her “Watch & Wait” EP, released in January, while she was undergoing treatment for lymphoma last year — often working out lyrics while attached to an IV. That inevitably gives a darker cast to songs like the hooky “Temporary”:
“Looking for a sign
Watch it slip away
The mystery of time …
When I’m here feeling
Don’t try and hold me, if you’re
gonna hold me back
Just tell me it’s only
Like her elegantly styled videos, some of which — “Temporary” and the dreamy “Cast Away” — the visually oriented Vos directed, the song translates feelings of profound fatigue and dislocation into universal themes of finding value. “Empty Hands” pierces the dream; the video follows Vos into treatment sessions, and the lyric transforms illness into a relationship metaphor (“Take my money, back me up again/ Throw away flowers, tryin’ so hard to win/ Bruisin’ needles, tell me another way”). Yet the music has a cleansing effect as it washes over ears, suggesting a process of self-discovery and healing that many are seeking these days.
Ella Vos performs at Taste of South Lake at the Shops on Lake, 345 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28; event begins at noon and also includes performances by Sunflower Bean (1 p.m.) and Ximena Sarinana (4 p.m.), with between-set music from DJ Raul Campos. Admission’s free. Info: (626) 792-1259. Ellavos.com, Southlakeavenue.org