Album Review: Heaven Sent Delinquent by Shawna Virago
Heaven Sent Delinquent by San Francisco based singer-songwriter, Shawna Virago, is a refreshingly unique, poetic, and beautifully executed album. The acoustic work is packed with folk and punk influences, fused together by strong vocals with an edge that’s hard to classify. Her expressive lyrics are emotionally impactful as well as intellectually provoking, and deal with her experiences as a transsexual woman living in the United States. Yet, the most defining thing about the album is that it’s completely and utterly approachable ― which makes it a quality work of art.
Virago’s songs touch upon themes of love, loss, rejection, regret, hope and all of the things that make people ― people. Though tracks like “Gender Armageddon” or “The Ballad of Miss Suzy Texas” may speak directly to individuals who’ve dealt with similar experiences, they are still about things that are fundamentally universal, which is why most people are going to be able to relate to her songs on some personal level. “The Pleasure Car” is one of my favorites, followed by “Holly Rollers” and “Bright Green Ideas.”
But, there’s also the fact that Heaven Sent Delinquent is simply excellent from a musical standpoint. Within the first 20 seconds of any track on the album, we learn that Shawna Virago is a skillful musician who is intimately familiar with her craft, to the point of the guitar becoming an extension of her limbs. And, when she incorporates the harmonica, as she does on “Burnout” and “The Land of Guns and Honey,” she manages to squeeze the most out of her minimalist approach to music; it allows her to direct the listener’s attention to exactly where she wants it.
Performing as an open transgender woman since the early 1990s, Virago gained prominence in the alternative music scene before the world connected online. “These are the stories of my generation ― a generation of transgender people who came out long before the Internet, before transgender celebrities and reality TV stars … before anybody gave a shit about us.” The ten-track album ― released on January 1st, 2017 ― was recorded, engineered, and mixed by Laura Dean and is available for purchase on vinyl, CD and download, as well as streaming on SoundCloud.
Note* Album provided for objective review by our partners.