(New York, NY) Fronted by powerhouse vocalist/songwriter/guitarist Lily Vakili, Vakili Band releases Walking Sideways on February 25, 2022. The New Jersey-based band’s musical touchstones include Patti Smith, Joan Jett, and Brandi Carlile – with a smattering of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” liberation, David Bowie’s chameleon-like “Changes,” and the New York Dolls’ attitude thrown in for good measure. LISTEN HERE.
A force of nature unafraid to express her beliefs, Vakili lives her life as a whole, refusing to compartmentalize, either in her career or her diverse music. “Sharp Devil” has a Stones-esque swagger to it, a country flavor that recalls “Wild Horses,” while “When 21” looks at the younger generation with the wisdom of someone who’s been there, inspired by the experience of her non-neurotypical, autistic son (“Who doesn’t want to be bright and young/Life’s nice and easy when 21”). The title track was inspired by Vakili spotting a woman emerging from a bar so tipsy that she was “Walking Sideways,” exploring her inner thoughts on the way to arriving at that sad but defiant state. The inspiration for “Freeman” came from seeing a prisoner working in the fields, respecting that individual as a human being, while “She Wants What” and “Rachel” are raucous, feminist anthems.
Vakili has always prided herself on using her music to reach out to other women, so it is fitting that she is releasing this album just in time for Women’s History Month. A video for “Rachel,” will be released on March 15, and Vakili says she hopes it inspires young women who are starting to make their way in the world. “I want to let them know they are believed in, they are stronger than they know, and that those of us who are further down the path have their backs,” she explains. “I have two amazing daughters – amazing for their compassion, intelligence, and generosity of spirit. I look at them and their friends and want them to be celebrated and to receive the equitable recognition and rewards they deserve.”
Throughout the month, Vakili Band will be performing at female-owned venues, collaborating with female designers for the band’s artwork and merchandise, and donating a portion of their earnings to women-focused not-for-profits. March 11th will find the band in their hometown of Montclair, NJ, at Montclair Brewery with singer-songwriter Stacia Thiel, and on March 16th they’ll travel to Philadelphia to perform at The Fire with The Royal Fatback and Poppy.
The band caps off the exciting month with a live recording session at Leesta Vall Studio on Tuesday, March 29th, where they’ll record several songs on limited edition, one-of-a-kind, vinyl records.
Vakili’s musical career is a testament to the non-conformist beliefs with which she was raised. Born in Honduras and raised in Thailand, Puerto Rico, and Iowa, Vakili worked in theatre and went on to carve out a successful career as a biotech lawyer while continuing to nurture all manner of dreams, including making music. The fifth of six siblings, Vakili picked up the guitar when she was 14. Her first songs started as poems, a practice that continues to this day, with Vakili bringing lyrics and a core musical structure to the band, who then collaborate in building the desired arrangement.
Walking Sideways shows the growth of Vakili as a songwriter, vocalist, and bandleader, and the group as a whole – including lead guitarist and occasional songwriting collaborator Ben St. Jack, harmonica player Joel Dorow and the rock-solid rhythm section featuring drummer Gordon Kuba and bassist Matt Jovanis – since their last release, 2018’s Oh, Alright.
For Vakili Band, Walking Sideways represents a major step forward. They make it real… NOW.