Female ‘sing-songwriters’ I’m listening to at the moment

I’ve been listening to a bunch of different women singers/musicians lately, two of whom I’ve been impressed with for some time, and one who is brand new to me.

Firstly, there’s Ruth Theodore, an English folkie with a bit of a gypsy/jazz flavour to her music. She has a good range to her voice and is one hell of a guitarist, often playing a fast finger picking style. This song, ‘CO2’ off the album Worm Food, gives a good idea of her style.

Another really nice song is Grounded, although it’s a bit dificult to hear her over the background talking in this club! Nice guitar playing, though.

Actually, she reminds me a bit of Marian Arts — a New Zealand singer/songwriter/guitarist, who broke through in the 1970s as a member of the Red Hot Peppers, a jazz/folk combo that also featured her husband Robbie Laven, a terrific multi-instumentalist. They were moderately popular for about 4–5 years in NZ and Australia, the group broke up and Marian and Robbie went to Europe (Robbie’s homeland of the Netherlands), where they refined their style into a very European jazz/folk style. Robbie’s amazing playing get better, but the real change was in Marian’s singing, which took on more jazz stylings as she started playing with the sounds her voice could make. A former workmate of mine, Kevin Ikin (an excellent folk guitarist in his own right), had one of their albums from the 1980s The Lost Angel, which really turned me onto this style of music. I suspect it’s virtually impossible to get (I haven’t been able to find it anywhere on the net), but a specialist folk music supplier might be able to find a second-hand copy somewhere in the world.

Another woman I’ve been listening to for a while is Alina Simone, a Ukraine-born, USA-raised singer. She’s a more intense performer than Ruth Theodore — there’s more of the Ani DiFranco style in there. This song, ‘Night Swimming’ off the album Placelessness, is a good example of her style.

There’s not a lot of fun in her music. Her latest release, Everyone is Crying Out to Me, Beware, is a cover album featuring the music of Russian cult icon, Yanka Dyagileva, a Siberian punk-folk singer who died in 1991. This isn’t one of the songs from it (even though it’s in Russian).

The third, and latest singer I’ve discovered, is Jenny Owen Youngs, another American. She has a bit more folk/country sound, and she uses some of the types of instuments Ruth Theodore uses in her music — woodwind and string instruments as backing. She’s definitely more fun (generally) than Alina Simone. I downloaded her second release Batten the Hatches from emusic.com a couple of weeks ago and have been giving it a fair thrashing. This song, ‘Fuck Was I’, seems to be one of the better known songs from it.

She’s just released a new album, Transmitter Failure, which I haven’t heard yet, but hope to get in the next couple of days. This song ‘Clean Break’ is on it.

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