It wouldn’t be fair of me to have a blog and not include the ladies who continue to paint my musical landscape.
I love great singers and there are countless female singers who have been rightfully celebrated in rock n roll history. I am not going to name them. You know who they are.
Today I am hoping to introduce you to a few of the current crop of female artists that have caught my ear. Some, or most, I would imagine you are not familiar with.
The noise on the radio from the likes of Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, etc. drowns out the more interesting women out there making great music.
Here are five you should know about, in no particular order:
Katie Melua – Katie is from England. She came on strong with a beautiful debut album that launched her into stardom in the UK. She has made a few afterwards, but still has not hit in the USA. Katie explores bluesy jazz with folk sensibilities. Her smooth vocals and storytelling make her a compelling artist. Without indulging in the usual themes of I’m sad because some guy screwed me over, or seeking revenge on the same guy, Katie addresses many topics, effortlessly. I am particularly fond of this one because it’s outside the norm. It kind of reminds me of a topic Ray Davies might cover.
Imelda May – One hot pistol from Ireland. Imelda plays rockabilly with an Irish twist. Her music is high energy, fun rock n roll. It would have fit in back in the 70’s as well as the 50’s and it fits now. Imelda achieved notoriety when she performed with Jeff Beck as the Irridium Jazz Club in NYC singing the Les Paul songbook. Imelda has two albums. Her first is absolutely brilliant. Her husband plays rockabilly guitar as good as Eddie Cochran. This is fun music and Imelda delivers with a powerful voice I have not heard in years. She makes me go WOW.
Neko Case – As the lead singer of indie rock darlings, The New Pornographers, Neko gained a cult following. She since went solo and moved to alt-country, if that is a label you can deal with. Forget labels, this girl can sing. Her voice is rich and soars through the layers of music reminiscent of American folk. She makes you yearn for simple times on the farm in the midwest, even if you have never been there. Her album, “Fox Confessor Brings The Flood” is excellent. The production is stark, the arrangements are unusual and Neko’s abilty to paint a song is evident. Her follow up “Middle Cyclone” follows a similar path. Neko should be much more popular than she is, but it’s not pop music.
La Roux – Elly Jackson is a 24 year old English girl who teamed up with Ben Langmaid and formed an electropop band called La Roux. I am normally not a fan of this kind of music, but this has a hooky synth pop sound of the 80’s but even more infectious. Elly’s vocals are stunning and the songs on their debut album are so catchy you will sing them when you wake up in the morning. The debut album is one I could not get out of my car CD player for weeks. They had a mega hit with the song “Bulletproof” (look it up) but every song on the album is equally good. Here is one of my favorites:
Nelly McKay – This girl is batty and silly and her music is borderline comedy. You would think it was hard to take seriously, but you should. Nelly is multi-talented, quirky but not annoying. She has balls too, well not literally. I say that because her debut is a double album filled with very odd songs with arrangements that hit on every genre. She hits way more than she misses and I admire her guts. Before she had a chance to make any kind of name for herself, she did an entire album of Doris Day classics. Talk about staying as far away from the mainstream? She managed to do just that. Nelly is still around and pops up just about everywhere. Check her out. She’s very odd, not for everybody, but I like her.
I hope I have inspired you to give these ladies a listen. I tried to pick different genres and tastes. It’s okay if you don’t like them all. I picked five that I consider the most interesting and artistic in their endeavors.
Other ladies I have found interesting that you should check out: Bella Ruse, Allison Weiss, April Smith, Laura Marling, Gina Sicilia, Melody Gardot, Lyyki Li.
I pay attention to a lot of music. You should too.