With the weather getting warmer across the country and over a year of being confined to our homes, everyone is itching for a getaway, and where better than the beach.
Armed with a ukulele, Santa Cruz-based artist Vana Liya is bringing the beach to you in her new single “Come Away,” a collaboration with dancehall and reggae legend Half Pint.
The somewhat sleepy, hypnotizing track features enough of a steady rhythm driven by its understated production to entrance the listeners who willingly obey its seduction: “We just keep it movin’, leave it to the bass line.” It quickly becomes inviting to dance and sway along.
Despite how laid-back the song first appears, there are some more serious undertones that she is addressing within it as well. She provided some insight into the meaning, saying, “The song isn’t explicitly about racism, or politics, or any one thing. But it reflects the times that we’re in. The racial violence and political injustice is just something that hit me really heavy. This was the year  I woke up and I realized that the world was corrupt. I’d had a shield over my eyes, so I wanted to address that in the song, but it in a light way.”
Perhaps that is why it feels like it’s in the suspended tension of combat, as if the drums are set to a cadence appropriate not only for dancing but for marching. “After the battle is the sweeter: the victory, the victory,” they sing together. Her light and airy vocals are fit for a siren luring seamen to their doom, beautiful and haunting with an edge of curiosity that makes it difficult not to listen closely.
Born Nirvana Goberdhan, Vana first rose to popularity through her YouTube covers. It was her ukulele playing and soft vocals—which could rival Billie Eilish’s own for both their gentleness and control—which caught the attention of 311, Rebelution, Stick Figure and SOJA who reposted some of her videos, bolstering her early success. She was both the first female artist and first solo artist on the label when she signed to LAW Records in 2018.
Vana grew up in Deer Park, NY, and was exposed to soca, calypso, dancehall and reggae music from a young age thanks to her Carribean heritage. She was gifted a ukulele in her late teens, and having been singing since she was age 12, it was a natural step to forge her musical background into the graceful artist she has created herself to be.
Her label promises that this song “foreshadows the broad stylistic eclecticism and bold subject matter that can be expected on Vana’s upcoming projects.”