Friday, October 10, 2008

New Digs: Folk Women.........

If you would've asked me two years ago if i liked music from females, my short answer would have been no. And then i would have gone into a "but, i kinda like...." consisting of a few songs here and there. i don't know who to credit with opening my eyes to the beauty of female crooners (most likely Kasey Chambers...), but sometime over the last couple years i've come to enjoy more and more music from women. It's gotten to the point now where the gender of the artist doesn't matter one bit - as long as the music is good. And the simple reason that my library consists mostly of guys is that female artists are a serious minority in the type of music i tend to like. But those that are here.... are real good.

Gillian Welch and Patty Griffin have done more for contemporary folk music than most men have. They prove that women can help drive an entire scene - and not just supply some sweet vocals. Kasey Chambers has shown that success doesn't mean you have to forgo your musical values (at least not Down Under). And then there's the power of many with folk groups like The Be Good Tanyas, The Wailin' Jennys, and The Waifs. Feist, Cat Power, and Birdie Busch are bringing more of an indie edge into the female folk scene. Groups like The Greencards, The Gougers, and The Everybodyfields split time between male and female voices only to bring in more variety and sweet accompaniment. Samantha Crain, Sharon Van Etten, and Allison Francis are part of a slew of new young women that will keep the scene moving in the right direction.

I still have a few reservations, though. i tend not to discriminate upon the basis of gender once i hear a song, but the chances of me downloading or sampling a song from someone i haven't heard drops slightly in the case of females. i can't tell you why.... maybe it's that those women that i do listen to have a certain reputation that precedes them - so i know what i'm getting myself into. That's why it's taken me a while to get into these next two artists.

i could make a loooong post out of this, but i wanna get to the music. The two female artists i'm highlighting today have no shortage of good praise around the blogosphere, nor are they the newest acts around, but like i said - it takes an extra push to get me to try out new women - uh, musically. A trick that helps is this situation - as well as in life in general - is to judge someone by the company they keep.

Jenny Lewis, aside from being the former front-woman of the indie-pop group Rilo Kiley, has toured some with Ryan Adams & The Cardinals. After much success with her band as well as contributing vocals on various indie acts such as The Postal Service, Jenny was urged by Conor Oberst to make an album for his newly formed label Team Love. She enlisted the help of The Watson Twins to record Rabbit Fur Coat in 2005. In '07 Rilo Kiley recorded their last and most acclaimed record Under The Blacklight. Just last month, Jenny released her first completely solo album, Acid Tongue, and it's her best work yet. On top of pop-rhythms and jazzy pianos sits Jenny's sultry vocals that could fit right in with the likes of Loretta Lynn and Emmylou Harris.

Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins – Rise Up With Fists
buy Rabbit Fur Coat (2005)
Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue
buy Acid Tongue (2008)
Jenny Lewis – The Next Messiah
buy Acid Tongue (2008)

If Jenny lo
oks familiar in another way, she started her career as an actress - at the age of 10. Most notably, she starred in Troop Beverly Hills - a film i'm only aware of thanks to my older sister.

The newest artist to be added to the growing list of Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) side projects is Ohio folkster Jessica Lea Mayfield. This 18-year old has played shows with The Avett Brothers, The Black Keys, and likewise young newcomer Samantha Crain. Her debut album With Blasphemy, So Heartfelt is a bluesy folk disc filled with foreboding lyrics the likes of Neko Case. The songs send a chill through you that is somehow comforting - and very reminiscent of the slower songs that The Black Keys have put out.

Jessica Lea Mayfield – Kiss Me Again
buy With Blasphemy, So Heartfelt (2008)
Jessica Lea Mayfield – We’ve Never Lied
buy With Blasphemy, So Heartfelt (2008)

1 comment:

  1. Wow, actually, I'd say if there's any music genre that has an equal share of women as men it's folk music. Women are known for "confessional" types of music, and folk music is generally more personal than other types if you ask me, it lends itself well.

    I am the exact opposite as you as far as downloading "another band fronted by a guy who needs a haircut or a shave? I'll pass." It's probably because I AM a woman though, that their music hits closer to home and I take more seriously. I am probably in a minority of people whose music collection is over 75% female fronted.

    I had not heard of Jessica Lea Mayfield, so I will check her out.