By Jocelle Koh

Vietnamese-American singer-songwriter Dolly Ave has gone through many transformations in her career. Transitioning from a professional music photographer to slowly fulfilling her dreams as an original songwriter, her story arc screams “seize the day”; as does her latest single “This Is Our Time”.

Having transformed through different iterations on her sonic journey, from indie pop on 2018’s “Birds” to bedroom electronica on “Sleep” to urban R&B and pop (“Occupied” and “Play With It”), the sweet-throated songbird describes this new moment as a movement towards “more upbeat and hopeful music”, setting the theme for her forthcoming debut album.

Of the playlist she’s curated for Asian Pop Weekly’s listeners, she shares how these songs have lent in some way to the uplifting, anthemic atmosphere of “This Is Our Time”, and encourages everyone to follow in her footsteps.

“I curated the playlist for moments when you need to feel empowered to start your day off on a good note. These songs capture that spirit of courage to take the next step. Personally I tend to associate this type of imagery and energy with a good old fashion roadtrip. The journey is exciting, the sights are unfamiliar, and you’re ready to see what awaits you at the end of the trip.”

Featuring new and old loves for Dolly from acts such as Cage the Elephant, The Temper Trap, Pharrell Williams and Ashley Nguyen DeWitt, this curation is a reflection of Dolly’s eclectic influences, and everything that has brought her to this point.

Track 1 – Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked – Cage the Elephant
I love this band. There is so much sass and edginess, it almost gets you in character. That’s what I love about music. You become completely lost in the lyrics the artist creates for you. 

Track 2 – Rise Again – Ashley Nguyen DeWitt
I recently discovered this Vietnamese artist through some friends of mine. I love the meaning behind this song. “We will rise again.” No matter how low we can feel, we can come together and start anew.

Track 3 – This is Our Time – Dolly Ave
I was inspired to write this anthem song for my artist peers and I. At times life can stress us out and we may feel that we need to wait for the perfect time or moment to share our art, but sometimes the right time is right now. I thought of my mother a lot during the writing process and of course due to the circumstances of our lives there was a lot of delay towards enjoying life from financial reasons, working too often, or fear or change. I hope those listening at home get a little bit inspired and check off one thing you really want to try this month. 

Track 4 – Sweet Disposition – The Temper Trap
When I imagine a movie montage and memories of my youth flashing before my eyes I think of this song. It’s nostalgic, it’s endearing, and the tempo of the song reminds me of being a kid dreaming outside of the car window.

Track 5 – Skinny Dipping – Sabrina Carpenter
I was so engulfed in Sabrina Carpenter’s latest album release titled, “Emails I can’t send.” It was personal and the words were so specific you could smell the experiences she was describing. This song stood out to me because it was conversational and the chorus leads us into a “leave all the bad things behind” attitude. If we could take it all off and skinny dipping – water under the bridge. 

Track 6 – Just A Cloud Away – Pharrell Williams
I found this song so late, but it’s still relevant and a great mood lifter. You can’t help but smile when you listen. 

Track 7 – As it Was – Harry Styles
I know this track is a no brainer and on everyone’s playlist, but I loved reading about the history behind the track. Harry Styles had a life of pause as well due to the pandemic and for him he got a chance to reflect and slow down. It was a chance for him to put thought and effort into what his thoughts, feelings, and desires are. He’s a famous musician and always on the go. He had to recalibrate and reset and learn what it was to be Harry Styles the human.

Track 8 – Can I Kick It? – A Tribe Called Quest
As you can tell from every song there are similar themes to each one of them. This song for me describes that warm glow sunset car-ride after a long day of activities feeling. 

Track 9 – Time Trap – Built To Spill
This song is mostly instrumental but it brings you on a journey with the guitar swells. I remember hearing this song while attending the return of Coachella – my first time – at an Airbnb with my manager. We were just reminiscing the beginning of my music journey and this song came on. I love how music can transport you back into moments. Now I will always associate that chapter of my life. 

Track 10 – Cancel Me – Dominic Fike
I find this track incredibly funny. It goes through his thought process of wanting the world to “cancel” him so he can get away from the glam of Hollywood and just enjoy his life with his family. It’s a great middle finger song to let go of worries based around other people’s expectations of you and to live the way you need to for yourself.

Watch the official music video for “This Is Our Time”