You SO thought you were going to click on this link and find photos of me in drag. Admit it. Hate to disappoint. No, I’m talking about music — and not the “angry lesbian music” Chris always accuses me of listening to (though Amanda Marshall still rules, and is not a lesbian, no matter what Chris says). No, I simply realized that all of the bands and solo artists I’d been downloading of late were male, so decided to change it up a bit and follow some female vocalists. Check out a few of my new favs below. Though some may be incredibly mainstream, the way they approached a certain song or attacked a vocal lick caught my attention. So, while they may not be new discoveries to you, their feminine wiles are definitely winning me over.
Fergie: The Duchess — Fergie steps out from behind all the glamour and delivers a beautiful, honest performance on “Finally.” It’s a nice surprise — though I still love her in-your-face approach to everything else she touches.
Alison Sudol (A Fine Frenzy) — “One Cell in the Sea”: “Come On, Come Out” on this album was my introduction to her, and it has stuck. Her glorious red hair is not nearly as memorable as her take on this song. The piano leading into the bridge is beautiful, too. And once she sells you the melody, she makes the simplest lyrical changes as she moves through it that are really interesting and surprising.
Bird York: Have No Fear — I discovered her renting the movie “Crash” — the song was “In the Deep.” There was actually a lot of good music to that sound track, but she was the find for me. She has this earthy quality in her delivery, coupled with a very articulated, attack on her consonants when closing off her words. “Until the Lightning Comes” and “Near You” are excellent.
Kelly Rowland: “When Love Takes Over” with David Guetta is the absolute happiest song I have danced to, worked out to, commuted to, or escaped to in a very long time. She just nails it, and I can NEVER sit still when I hear it. Ever.
Donna Lewis: In the Pink –– My choice in over-produced bubble gum pop. “I Love You Always Forever” is so absolutely cheesy that I love it. You can memorize it, harmonize with it, and visualize any number of Dawson’s Creek, Vampire Diaries or O.C. episodes.
Adele: 19 — “Right As Rain” and “Chasing Pavements” are just the best. Crank the volume to really feel like you’re right there in the room with her. “Rolling in the Deep” is a no-brainer, but check out this album to get a deeper taste of her.
Grace Potter (Grace Potter and The Nocturnals) — The way she nails “Paris, Ooh la la” on the self-titled album is just dirty. I love it. Makes me break out in a crooked smile and want to just grind it out on the dance floor. But then she takes you somewhere else complete on This Is Somewhere crooning “Ah, Mary.” And the twist on that tune is when she delivers the last line that unveils who the song is really about.
Floortje: Fearless — The album is nothing that blows you away. Her voice is even a bit on the thin side, but the simplicity of her vocals and the happiness in her licks is interesting. She’s consistent and committed to every line.
Rachel Taylor (He Is We): My Forever — The way her vocals blend with Trevor Kelly (the other half of We) “All About Us,” “Happily Ever After” and “Blame it on the Rain” is reminiscent of Everything But the Girl. She’s comfortable out front or subtly in the background, but either way she carries their music beautifully. I’ll look forward to hearing her voice ten years from now. That maturity is going to be amazing.
Katharine McPhee: Unbroken — Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about the American Idol audition process. I just can’t take it. So I just keep an eye out for some of the winners and runners up after a few years. Katharine has definitely come into her own on this one. “Unbroken” comes together nicely with the piano, strings, and her clean melody lines. She only pushes as hard as she needs to, and isn’t afraid to move and mix through her registers comfortably, instead of powering through, as the show seems to mandate. “Had It All” delivers in a predictable, produced, poppy sort of way — but she’s good at it, so why not?
Michelle Branch: Hotel Paper and The Spirit Room — “Everywhere” (from the latter) is probably the most recognizable, but “Are You Happy Now” (from the former) actually lets her deliver a little more powerfully and get out of her light and airy comfort zone. And I would swear she likes where this type of music sits in her voice than the other. It certainly feels that way when you listen to them back-to-back.
Natasha Bedingfield: Pocketful of Sunshine –– She grew on me with this album. She just sounds better. More settled. More grown up. “Pocketful of Sunshine” drives on with a memorable beat, memorable lyrics, and a memorable melody. That’s rare. Then she gets haunting and emotive on “Soulmate” — I know, right? Natasha? But she delivers.
Samantha James: Rise — I discovered her listening to some Kaskade remixes (love me some Kaskade). “Waves of Change” is amazing. So I sought out some of her other music. “Rise” and “Angel Love” from the album Rise are great for ambiance at a cocktail party or just for hanging out and cooking dinner.