Douse your fantasies, perverts. These are songs by female singer-songwriters, each with a female name for a title.
irene : rose melberg
click here or on the image below to listen. 2m 41s
Is it possible not to like Rose Melberg after hearing this song? Just like the way she looks, the voice of this former Californian has an endearing and innocent character that makes you want to find your inner knight and come to her protection. She is the quiet girl from high school whose very coyness made her naturally intriguing. Two things about Irene caught my attention. First, it reminded me of the song Fascination by Everything But The Girl, especially its piano intro. Basically, it's a peppy, higher-key take on the lethargic plucked-guitar opener of the much-older song by the British duo. It's only a slight similarity, but it would be hard to listen to Irene without wondering if Melberg had just heard of Fascination and been subconsciously inspired by it. The second is its lyrical wit which manifests itself even in the first four lines of the song: So tired waking up uninspired; Too bored; you could change – but what for? I would be lying if I said I haven't felt that way before. That said, the song doesn't speak to my demographic, but to the same self-absorbed adolescent that Melberg's voice made me imagine. So dumb, what you wait for will come; Oh Irene, no one's strong at sixteen. The highlight of the song? The backing vocals, which circle her voice like a halo. And yes, they are her own – the album where this song comes from, Cast Away The Clouds, is after all almost entirely a one-person affair, with Melberg playing the guitars, piano, flute, ukulele, and drums.
eleanor : shannon worrell
click here or on the image below to listen. 5m 39s
Let me get one thing out of the way: Dave Matthews sings back-up in this song, and he does it extremely well as his voice seems to be the equivalent of a soul mate with that of Worrell. My knowledge of Worrell, however, is limited to this song, which comes from an old compilation CD from the Aware record label, but is also enough for me to admire her both as a singer and songwriter. I love the quality of her voice. It is vulnerable but disarming, especially when she seemingy breathes in the sharp notes at the start of some lines of the song – intermittent fragments that tug at the heart. The melody and imagery are beautiful, at turns heartwarming (especially when she sings the lines You're no empty shell and Plucked from the sky like spring's new leaf) and saddening. That part about approaching her indifferent father while he read a book – Why even bother? she asks herself – almost gave me a few goosebumps. It also made me wonder what the song is about. At first I thought it was about a young woman so full of passion, so willing to throw her love around, but who in reality was in search of purpose or self-discovery. But then she talks about her father – He thinks he knows me well; He thinks he knows this heart – and it made me wonder why she would need affirmation from him. And why is she almost an angel? I want a sequel to the song, dammit!
lydia : kathryn williams
click here or on the image below to listen. 2m 45s
I get instantly wary when critics say that an artist resonates Nick Drake or Joni Mitchell. Often I wouldn't see the similarity until someone pointed it out to me, and that's the case with Kathryn Williams. I like her unembellished songs. Not a lot of female solo artists today are confident enough to have such spare arrangements. Here, it's just Williams and her guitar, with minimal instrumentations in the background. Her voice is not really unique. It has that sleepy, wispy tone that you hear more often in anonymous chill-out or samba music. At best, her music is quietly arresting, which is probably how she won those favorable comparisons with Drake (less so with Mitchell, who has a strong, piercing voice). But this is the most credit I can give Williams, because her music lacks intensity, and when her songs are sunny, like Lydia is, she becomes, well, just cute. Like she is in that picture above.