music defies classification, but some have called her style
"punk-folk." Ani has spurned signing with a major
record company, instead choosing to release on her own Righteous
Babe Records label. Ani is exceptionally skilled on the
guitar and has a vocal style uniquely her own. Many of her
up-tempo tracks have a pulsing, almost throbbing quality due
to the prominent placement of the guitar and rhythm section
in the mix. Ani has developed a devoted fan base in part because
of her willingness to challenge the political and sexual status
quo of America through her lyrics. I continue to be amazed
at the way her music continues to evolve, yet rarely at the
cost of a misstep. Revelling / Reckoning, her 2001 release,
has a jazz undercurrent to a number of the tracks. It's truly
an exceptional double CD set.
a contemporary folk artist, is another favorite of mine. Her
lyrics are very meaningful & often tackle social issues.
A new listener might try "The Honesty Room" for
a contemporary folk feel or "The End of the Summer"
for a more folk-pop sound.Go to Dar's web page.
is a very gifted singer-songwriter who writes songs of great
honesty and strength. Her soprano voice may at first remind
you of Kate Bush, but you will find marked differences after
spending time in Tori's musical world.Go to "A
Dent in the Tori Amos Net Universe".
like Tori, is a singer-songwriter with a voice that lingers
in the upper reaches of the soprano range. The texture of
Sarah's music tends to involve electronic instruments &
the rhythm section, while Tori's music is often backed by
piano and occaisionally strings. Sarah recently organized
the groundbreaking Lilith Fair. tour in the
summer of 1997 to celebrate women in music. Visit
some Sarah links.
contemporary folk artist to watch is Susan Werner. She packs
her live performances with energy, exceptional musicianship
and a delightful sense of humor. Her album, Last of the
Good Straight Girls contains one of my favorite songs
of the last few years, "No One Here But Me." See
her live if you have a chance. Susan's talents exceed those
of many popular artists who have made it.Go to the Susan
Werner entry at the Ultimate Band List.
Colvin is a contemporary fok singer-songwriter with roots
in the Big Apple. Her voice conveys emotion very effectively.
A touch of country-western instrumentation sometimes makes
its way into the music but doesn't ever seem to dominate the
folk feeling of her sound. Her most recent effort, A Few
Small Repairs, is Grammy award winning. Check out
a Shawn Colvin page.
discovered this contemporary folk group based out of Baltimore,
Maryland in 1996. Many Indigo Girls fans will appreciate the
harmonies and acoustic guitar instrumentation in this group.
Their music is brutally honest, dealing with some of the most
important issues and problems of our times. Their sound is
melodic and occasionally incongruously upbeat (considering
the content of the lyrics). Go to the disappear
fear home page.
Rhodes is another very gifted singer-songwriter. Very few
female recording artists can match the practical range of
her voice. She can sing in a beautiful soprano and drop to
an amazing tenor in the space of a couple seconds without
sounding the least bit strained. Lately, her music has a decidedly
synth.-pop feel but never sounds artificial or contrived.
Visit a Happy
Rhodes web site.
(now disbanded) group has a very distinctive sound which is
often dark, frequently complex texturally, and always melodic.
The lead singer, Mary Fahl, possesses one of the most unique
voices I've ever heard. New listeners should not give up too
quickly; patience will be rewarded. The track "Sunday
Morning Yellow Sky" on Falling Further In (1995) is an
incredible blend of melody and rhythmic textures.Jump
to a list of October Project links.
music by this band has been described as optimistic. The lead
vocals by Karen Peris are uplifting, especially on their 1995
release entitled Glow. Here is the
FAQ file for the Innocence Mission.
In 1992, while
a student at the University of Illinois, I discovered that
my musical tastes were similar to a group of listeners who
called themselves "Ectophiles" (after a 1992 Happy
Rhodes release entitled Ecto). There is an Ecto web site which has been
influential in my quest for new artists, leading me to such
impressive acts as October Project and Dar Williams.
interesting female musical artists can be found at Ladyslipper.org.
Year by Year
| My favorite albums of the last several
years in chronological order.
||Automatic for the People
||Fumbling Towards Ecstacy
||Last of the Good Straight
||Living in Clip
||The Miseducation of Lauryn
||To the Teeth
|| The Green World
| Revelling / Reckoning
||Come Away with Me
My Favorite Albums of All Time
|1) Little Earthquakes
by Tori Amos
This album, Tori's second release (after
her ill conceived Y Kant Tori Read), was very influential in
directing my musical tastes toward female artists. It is distinguished
by beautiful melodies sung by Tori over a backdrop of her empassioned
piano accompaniment. "Silent All These Years" may
be my favorite Tori song.
|2) Fumbling Towards Ecstacy
by Sarah McLachlan
Sarah's third album features a diverse
collection of songs, all of which are high quality. Her fellow
musicians are truly masterful in creating an exotic texture
over which her soprano vocals soar.
|3) The Honesty Room
by Dar Williams
"When I Was A Boy." is the
first song I ever heard by Dar. It laments the difficulty members
of our society face in breaking out of stereotypical gender
roles. In addition to this moving song, there are standout tracks
dealing with such topics as Mark Rothko, the afterlife, and
a fire which consumes a local watering hole. Few artists today
write lyrics which are as touching and powerful as Dar's.
|4) OK Computer by
I didn't realize how talented Radiohead
was until I heard OK Computer. This album is completely distinguished
from the usual alternative rock release today. It is lovingly
produced to create some great large-scale musical textures including
strings, grungy guitars and unique synthesized tones. The end
result is a classic album unlike anything I've heard before
|5) Last of the Good Straight
Girls by Susan Werner
hearing this album, I couldn't believe Susan Werner has not
achieved greater recognition for her work. This record is a
showcase for a musician of great creativity and ability. As
much as I love Shawn Colvin's work, I think Susan Werner is
a better songwriter and performer. This album is my favorite
of Susan's. It contains what I feel may be the best song of
1995 entitled "No One Here But Me."
|6) Automatic for the People
Much like OK Computer by Radiohead, Automatic
for the People is a musical work on a large scale. By adding
string accompaniment to its finely tuned musicians in some of
the arrangements, REM transcended the ordinary. "Nightswimming,"
a wonderful piano ballad with accenting strings provides a lush
counterpoint to Michael Stipe's rough vocals. Other standout
tracks include a frenetic "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite"
and the radio friendly and melencholy "Everybody Hurts."
|7) Swamp Ophelia by
Few songs I have ever heard are a beautiful
as "The Wood Song" on this release. The production
is top notch, yielding an extremely polished work. To top it
all off, guest vocalists Jane Siberry and the Roches sing backing
vocals on some tracks.