Believable Women

When dealing with matters of love, family, intimacy and the like, I can’t take many male singer-songwriters seriously. Most of the time, I simply don’t believe them. In regards to some muzak that I’ve been unfortunately unable to escape, do I really believe that all they, the male singer-songwriters, want in life is to share banana pancakes with their wife in the morning?

And lines like “Times Square can’t shine as bright as you” make me believe the author should focus on writing Hallmark cards instead of music. Also, what kind of person lovingly compares their partner to Times Square? There’s a fraudulence about these songs that end up cheapening real intimate moments.

The weight of the responsibility for such cheap moments doesn’t lie solely on the muzak, but it isn’t improving anything either. No matter.

What does matter is honesty. Honest work includes imperfections in the artists themselves, their relationships and the world at large. Ignoring this unignorable part of life shouldn’t be tolerated.

Yet, I hear many people give these males with guitars passes for being “more intelligent” than your other (read: female) pop-stars because they might be more hands on with their music or… god knows what else.

Getting away from the prevalent and negative, here are some women whose words are forthright and emotions aren’t suspect.

Alynda lee Sygarra

of Hurray for the Riff Raff

Too Much of a Good Thing

HftRR are based out of New Orleans and I was fortunate enough to see them three times in the short time I lived in Austin. Though she’s small in stature and her voice soft, when Alynda is on stage, the audience silences themselves paying her their undivided attention. Her demeanor doesn’t demand that at all, the audience is just that responsive. That intrigued by her. The rooms are anxious to listen.

The next track appropriates a few of my favorite Daniel Johnston lines.
Is That You?

[audio:|titles=Is That You?]

A song that I haven’t stopped singing for over a year now-
Slow Walk

[audio:|titles=Hurray for the Riff Raff_Young Blood Blues_02_Slow Walk]

A favorite among my friends-

[audio:|titles=Hurray for the Riff Raff_It Don’t Mean I Don’t Love You_02_Daniella]

Nina Nastasia


In mid 2004, I was given an mp3 CD with albums I had missed from Animal Collective, Wilco, TV on the Radio and Nina Nastasia. Being the most scaled down and bare-boned music on that disc, she interested me immediately.

Her voice gives an indication that she’s too familiar with Life. How it can be drudging, frustrating, doleful and all around sad. Yet she provides hope for those searching, finding that place and/or person that can temporarily cure you of the enormous, incurable world issues that continually lurk overhead and homogeneous people that prod you day-to-day.

Though she was mic’d the time I saw her, she didn’t need it. Casually backing away she projected a volume that gripped ribs and suspended breath. With the drummer not present, she simply strummed two chords and told this moving story icing me with “It’s your life to make a wreck.”
Late Night

[audio:|titles=08 Late Night]

It’s hard not to say “playful” about this next song.
It’s a Dog’s Life

[audio:|titles=05 A dog’s life]

I know this isn’t the Muzak that you’d hear walking into retail store or while reluctantly sitting in a Chili’s pounding ridiculous amounts of chips and salsa to take your mind off of being in a Chili’s, but how do you respond to someone whose favorite music is muzak? On a lighter note.
Judy’s in the Sandbox

[audio:|titles=03 Judy’s in the sandbox]

“A dance we weave beneath our skin
I keep you in me where the breath had been”
Counting Up Your Bones

[audio:|titles=04 Counting Up Your Bones]

Jolie Holland

Jolie Holland is lovely. She’s only the second person I’ve ever described as such. For instance:
The Littlest Birds Sing the Prettiest Songs

[audio:|titles=09 The Littlest Birds]

She’ll say a little…
Do You? and Damn Shame

[audio:|titles=08 do you_] [audio:|titles=10 damn shame]

And she’ll say a lot,

Mexican Blue

But you’ll believe her either way.

Emiliana Torrini

Holding this unique fatalistic, yet cute, personality Emiliana Torrini provides a different tone. She’s sharp, dark, and attractive.
Thinking Out Loud

[audio:|titles=01 thinking out loud (track 11)]

If there was a different approach used in the production, this song could’ve crept its way into the top 40. I’m not at all unhappy about how it turned out though.

[audio:|titles=21 heart stopper]


The women of Broken Social Scene were so important that I have to include at least one of their solo tracks. Here’s my favorite from Emily Haines.
Our Hell

[audio:|titles=01 Our Hell]

And because I’ve ALWAYS dug Keely Smith’s voice.
The Lip

[audio:|titles=06 The Lip]

And because I love funk, here is my favorite female funk track-
Carrie Riley & The Fascinations
Super Cool

[audio:|titles=04 Super Cool]

Women can tell stories that men cannot. Their perspective on relationships, life… anything is rarely presented in a manner that doesn’t come off like a cover-girl-pop harlot. And when a woman like Nora Jones, Feist, Regina Spektor, Alicia Keys, or anyone who isn’t garbage-pop does surface, her work is contorted to fit the tastes of 12-year-olds in an attempt to compete commercially. (See Liz Phair or compare all of the above’s pre-breakthrough to post-breakthrough albums to verify.)

The industry does make it slightly harder to find adult women who make music for other adults. But we’ve got to keep looking, hope this helps.


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