Drown Your Sorrows, Part I
This is a post that Joe and I have talked about putting together for some time now. We are both very interested in singer/songwriters, especially female singer/songwriters, whether it’s folk, blues, rock, pop, or whatever. These artists are not at all metal, but I can certainly assure you they they are very much heavy. So let’s take a step outside of metal for a couple of hours and drown our sorrows away.
Johanna Warren – Fates (2013)
Johanna Warren’s debut album, Fates was introduced to me by our very own Christian Molenaar not very long ago. As soon as I hit play I was completely left in a trance of disbelief and surprise. Johanna simply has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard and I listen to her as if she was singing directly to me. Pour all of your sorrow and pain on me Johanna, I can take it. This album is very minimal but that does not mean that it does not sound big. Johanna delivers powerful vocals, guitar, flute and clarinet on this album. She is also joined by Bella Blasko who provided backing vocals and piano. The songs are sung softly, very much like a lullaby, while also delivering some very original lyrics. You can tell that what she is singing about so passionately is coming straight from her heart; these words that she is singing are words she has lived through and they are dark and heartbroken. All of the songs are absolutely stunning, but the one song that really brings me to my knees and makes me almost cry is “My Storm”. The lyrics are filled with much sorrow and are sung beautifully. For example, “Are you my shelter, or are you my storm?” & “You got away with it ‘til you got caught/It is what it is, but it’s not what you thought.” Fates is a magnificent album that delivers the heavy emotions and hypnotizes the listener.
Jess Williamson – Native State (2014)
Native State is a dark banjo-wielding album brought to us by Austin, Texas native Jess Williamson. Jess delivers us 7 songs straight from her bleeding heart. The first song “Blood Song” sets the pace off very dark and almost hostile. I can’t quite put my finger on it exactly but the the album comes off as almost primitive sounding at moments. This album hurts at times, especially during songs like “Blood Song”, “Native State”, and”Field” which ache like a metal wound. Jess sings her songs like a true story teller, howling her lyrics like a coyote howls at the desert’s midnight full moon, but also at times whispers lyrics in a mournful and seductive way. Banjos, acoustic guitars and percussion is the main portion of the musical content, but the vocals and lyrics are by far the strongest element of Native State. This is a gem of an album, with very strong vocals and lyrics that bleed heartache and pain.
Kandle – In Flames (2014)
I’m a sucker for a beautiful and seductive sounding female voice; I can’t resist its power so I’m forced to be immersed it. Kandle‘s voice instantly reminded me of the seductive and wonderful voice of Lana Del Rey who is a pop artist that I can not help but love immensely. Kandle decided to record this album with a full band, which I really enjoy; I think this album would have sounded a bit flat without it. The band adds a bit more of a rocking punch to the melancholy. These blusey rock songs are about failed relationships, misfortunes, and overall despair. I feel that Kandle may have sold her soul to the devil for her talents and beauty. I think this 23 year old talent is going to be moving up in the world here; this is no ordinary talent and she will most definitely be a success. This album is an emotional storm and an exciting one at that, so don’t miss out on it.
Emiliana Torrini – Fisherman’s Woman (2005)
It is the Winter of 2006 and I foolishly believe that I am the loneliest I will ever be in my life. I have few friends and my heart is broken. By chance I meet a young woman at a hip coffee shop. She is tall and awkward and shy and I suppose I am too. We become friends. She makes me mix CDs of a massive variety of artists I don’t know. I’m a rural transplant that mostly listens to entry-level punk and metal; there are a lot of things I don’t know.
My friend burns me a CD that had been released just a year earlier. It’s called Fisherman’s Woman and it was recorded by an Icelandic woman with a strong Italian name. The folk instrumentation within is sparse but beautiful and her voice is haunting. Songs plod, creak, and burrow themselves into my brain. The second track “Sunny Road” immediately stands out. As an acoustic guitar picks out a breezy, galloping rhythm, a cryptic lyric escapes:
“I never married, never had those kids. I loved too many, now Heaven’s closed its gates.”
There is a nagging restlessness and desperation that lives within the otherwise calm and pastoral settings of Fisherman’s Woman. Like the titular character, you’re meant to wait and hope that anxieties will resolve themselves; soon everything will be alright. Right? The record is hopeful, but reserved in its expectations.
This album did not make much of an impact on Internet music sphere. Last month Fisherman’s Woman turned 10 years old. There will be no Pitchfork retrospective. There will be no deluxe reissue or label fanfare. It doesn’t matter. The music that truly affects us is a sum of the time and place in which we are vulnerable. Over the last decade I’ve found myself consistently returning to these droning chords and Emiliana Torrini’s world-weary lyrics. Maybe so long after release, this can be an emotional salve for someone else. Put this record on and try to drift off to another night of uneasy sleep. — Joe Thrashnkill