I'm just in love with female vocalists. The other day a friend commented "If I could have a voice, it would be like this one," referring to Lake Street Drive's Rachael Price belting out the lyrics of "You Go Down Smooth." I agree wholeheartedly. I used to say I was going to marry Susan Tedeschi's voice. Or Patsy Cline's. Aimee Mann's "Lost in Space" is an album that has deeply influenced me.
Although one of my go-to insults ends with "...huddled in the corner crying, singing off-key to Carole King's "Tapestry", downing a bottle of gin..." that album is fantastic. Say what you will about Sheryl Crow, but all you want to do is have some fun. You also want to soak up the sun. Plus, everyday pretty much is a winding road... Okay, this was embarrassing though. What was that about Sheryl?
For me, the folksier/bluesier/darker/grittier the better, though. You can never ever go wrong with the foxy Sharon Jones, or "sassy British white girls with big voices" in Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse & Adele. Alabama Shakes blow me away.
We have so many great modern examples of female vocals right now. The mesmerizing Sharon Van Etten and bandmate Heather Woods Broderick, First Aid Kit, The Secret Sisters, Karen Elson, Shara Worden (show-stealer on this track), Jade Castrinos (of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros fame), Esme Patterson (of Denver's Paper Bird).
I also like guy/girl vocal balance like She & Him, The Civil Wars, The Head & The Heart, Churchill, Shovels and Rope, or this song by Derek Nelson with help from Kelsey Wild. I could go on and on, but that last duo brings me to what inspired the post.
My hometown Chicago has spawned some SERIOUS female vocal talent, from jazz and blues greats like Billy McKenzie to pop/rock singers like Liz Phair. Below I've decided to call out three of my personal favorites from a more recent era. These three fine ladies not only have pipes, but they have soul behind their voices. They sing with passion, and I love them for it. P.S. I'll make a YouTube playlist and post it on my channel of all the artists I've mentioned here. Enjoy
of Company of Thieves
Where to Buy:Company of Thieves Webstore
Genevieve just kills it. I mean, flat out kills it. I've seen her perform many times and never tire of it. She sings like somebody wounded, someone with battle scars (which she is), but she also sings like someone who overcomes. Someone with strength, with passion, with hope. She's on a higher plane when she performs - lifted up. The song "Oscar Wilde" helped Genevieve and Company of Thieves garner some big time attention, but it's songs like "Gorgeous/Grotesque" that I love most. Deep, dark, beautiful.
of Gold Motel
Where to Buy: Gold Motel Website
Gold Motel's tunes are full of summery goodness. They're catchy, hooky, poppy, & outright fun. The former Hush Sound member Greta Morgan seems born to sing songs like these. What's most interesting to me, is how many of the songs have sad, frustrated, disappointed & even sometimes angry lyrics, yet how happy or light the songs sound. Example. It's a unique balance and it works. I could listen to Greta sing all day, and on a couple occasions, I've actually let their album "Summer House" repeat a few times - a rarity for me. Check em out:
Where to Buy: Jennifer Hall Website
Jennifer Hall has a voice from a different era. I can easily envision her in some smoky club in a forgone era singing jazz tunes. But she's not a jazz singer. Or a blues singer. Or a rock singer. She's all of that. Similar to Genevieve above, she seems to go somewhere else in her head when she performs. She sings with grace and poise, but also had a deepness, a darkness and an edge to her at times. She can elegantly weave the work "fuck" into a song multiple times and what it's poignant and piercing, it's not crude the way she sings it. It's the word that needs to be said at that moment. I sense that about all the words she sings. One of my favorite performances of hers is below.