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The Songbirds: Vol 4

August 12th, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

The final installment of the Songbirds, for now (there are still a few more who need bigging up, but we’ll do that later in the curriculum). So, I’ve featured 20 Songbirds; add your own favourites, and here should be abundant material for a brilliant mix-tape (or double CD-R).

Deb Talan
Deb Talan is one half of the Weepies, whom I utterly love, their silly name notwithstanding. Steve Tannen and Deb Talan were acoustic folk-musicians in their own right and fans of one another before they met. When they did, they became the Weepies (and a couple, or so I’ve heard). The two Weepies albums are great, with just enough of an edge to offset their inherent and appealing twee cuteness. Talan’s solo stuff (which — shame on the world — is not easy to find) is much in the same vein as the Weepies. Check out these excellent recordings of Talan live solo and the Weepies in concert (both endorsed by the artists), from 2003 and 2004 respectively. The latter yielded the Pablo Neruda-inspired “Cherry Trees” file below (edited by your friendly blogger to improve the soundlevels), a song that follows the slightly edgy “Tell Your Story Walking” on Deb’s 2001 sophomore album Sincerely. “Forgiven”, from her 2000 label debut Something Burning, is poetry accompanied by an acoustic guitar, a track that becomes more astonishing with every listen. And I am in love with Talan’s little giggle at the end of “Cherry Trees”.
Deb Talan – Forgiven.mp3
Deb Talan – Tell Your Story Walking.mp3
The Weepies – Cherry Trees (live).mp3 (previously uploaded)
The Weepies- Gotta Have You.mp3 (previously uploaded)

Brooke Fraser
New Zealand’s second biggest selling artist (after Haley Westrena), Brooke Fraser is a huge talent in the singer-songwriter mould with a fine line in attractive melodies and intelligent lyrics. On her second album, Albertine, the rugby All Black’s daughter is introspective about her Christian faith. Happily, her religious musings are not of the saccharine worship variety — God and Jesus are not even mentioned — nor even obliquely about her spirituality. Without listening too closely, “Deciphering Me” or “Shadowfeet”, both from Albertine, could be straightforward love songs. “Without You”, a quite lovely love song from her 2004 debut What To Do With Daylight, has a bit of a Norah Jones vibe going on — if the tryptophanatic Jones was a bit more interesting. Admirably, the CD booklet for Albertine lists a range of NGOs, with contact details, that work on issues such as human rights, development, abuse of women and children and human trafficking.
Brooke Fraser – Shadowfeet.mp3
Brooke Fraser – Without You.mp3
Brooke Fraser – Deciphering Me.mp3 (previously uploaded)

Emilíana Torrini
The name gives it away that Torrini comes from Iceland. Well, her full name actually does: Emilíana Torrini Davíðsdóttir, the offspring of Icelandic and Italian parents. Featured frequently on Grey’s Anatomy (great supporters of the Songbirds — don’t let anyone say that TV exposure undermines an artist’s credibility), Torrini has build up a decent amount of buzz, being mentioned as a bit of an insiders’ tip to the Eva Cassidy Consensus (see here). Her sound is gentle and quiet and militantly acoustic. Yet, beneath the fragile layer of etherealism there is an appealing depth which might require a few repeat listens — but these are richly rewarding. Catch videos of Torrini’s live performances on her excellent website.
Emilíana Torrini – Sunny Road.mp3
Emilíana Torrini – Serenade.mp3
Emilíana Torrini – Nothing Brings Me Down.mp3 (previously uploaded)


Maria Taylor

Azure Ray singer Maria Taylor‘s debut solo album, 11:11, was an eclectic bag of tricks, incorporating folk-rock, electronica and even torchsong. Her new album, Lynn Teeter Flower, is a more cohesive, but not without surprises. One of Bright Eyes supremo Connor Oberst’s favourites (they have guested on each other’s albums), Taylor’s sound is too layered, too crafted, too good to break into the mainstream. But it will establish her as a leading performer in the genre.
Maria Taylor – Nature Song.mp3
Maria Taylor – Lost Time.mp3
Maria Taylor – No Stars.mp3

Jenny Lewis
It is fitting to conclude this series of female singers with one of the best: Jenny Lewis, best known as lead singer of the wonderful (and sometimes frustrating) Rilo Kiley. Where Rilo Kiley have what might be described as an Indie-folk sound (hear the sing-along outro of “With Arms Outstretched”), Jenny Lewis’ 2005 solo album Rabbit Furcoat, with the Watson Twins, was pure alt.country, and deplorably featured a cover of a Traveling bloody Wilburys song, the horrid “Handle With Care”. Jenny has one of the sexiest voices in music today. This is evident on “It’s A Hit” and the fantastic (and easy-to-find) “Portions For Foxes”, both from RK’s More Adventurous album in 2004. Read this excellent interview with Jenny; I particularly like her line about not dropping favourite artists when they become successful or receive exposure in the mainstream (see the entry on Torrini).
Rilo Kiley – With Arms Outstretched.mp3
Rilo Kiley – It’s A Hit.mp3
Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins – You Are What You Love.mp3

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  1. Christian
    August 15th, 2007 at 16:41 | #1

    For my part I discovered Deb Talan here. Thank you for that! Nice blog, some of the lazy readers should leave a word …

  2. Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop
    November 14th, 2007 at 03:43 | #2

    Glad to see you’ve come around to Lynn Teeter Flower after initial doubts, Any Major D.

  3. nicole
    November 26th, 2007 at 03:56 | #3

    beautiful! thanks for sharing this stuff!

  4. Touf
    July 17th, 2009 at 05:44 | #4

    Effectivement, sympa.

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