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Female Pop, Jazz, Rock

(book) Society's Child, Janis Ian, Tarcher Penguin 2008
Entertaining, honest, up close and personal, this is Janis Ian writing as she things - with pure honesty, stated simply and well. The bio of this pop/folk/jazz icon, it's also a strong story of how star or not, we all rise and fall and falter and rise again. Because of Ian's lengthy career, you also have a overview of an era of pop rock - from the late 60's to now. Interesting personal life but also the personal stories behind the songs we know so well. Astounding too to realize At 17, was penned when Ian was barely past 17 herself; Society's Child was the break-through song and the fame (and controversary) it birthed took no one by surprise more than Ian herself.

This CD is unbelievably well-crafted with a jazz poignancy that grabs you in melodic tenacles. No matt what track, you'll find yourself mesmerized by the arrangements, pacing, and 'the voice' - talk about soulful. Or just listen to Simon and Garfunkel's America, re-spun in a breathless sweet way that makes you wonder if it's the first time you're listening to what is a classic - it's that fresh and unexpected.

Many people know Julia Fordham and must be keeping their musical taste cards close to their chest because Fordham should be a diva and mega star (which she is in a quiet way) versus a cult jazz, pop and contemporary cross over. She debuted in the 80's with some incredibly poignant lyricized songs that are memorable but never (if you ask me) got the play time that was deserved. Her range and interpretation of each and every song she does is Oscar worthy - she is totally in each song - and it is for the listener, an emotional as well as musical journey. Her recent China Blue positions her as a jazz artist and even new compositions (Holiday, For You Only For You) have a sense of instant American Songbook Classic to them. That said, no one does a more 'Julia-esque' arrangement of Michael McDonald's I Keep Forgettin'.

Christine Collister
No one does a better cover of Human Nature but frankly, no one, armed with just a guitar, the right amount of warmth and patter, does anything with more feeling or purity. Collister's new stuff is coming out soon so check her site for music samples and full CD and bio. Collister's light stylings (and amazing range) are soulful and uplifting at the same time. There's alot to be said for a singer who's lived life a bit. It comes out in the songs, the confidence and rapport with the audience and that unique way this particular singer has in making what's familiar, a whole new ball game. Her range is low to husky and than sweetly ingenue - depending on the song - but there is nothing between the music, the performer and the people she is singing too - it's just simply a completely authentic experience of someone who isn't about fame - it's about making music, communicating and reaching people. One of a kind.

Sarah Jerrom

I first heard Sarah Jerrom on Sirius XM and then again on CBC. Her rendition of Heather on the Hill is riveting but her take on Skylark is exceptional. A relaxed, mellow style - with awesome backup in Jamie Reynolds, Harley Card, Mark McIntyre, Mike Murley and Alison Young (tenor and alto sax respectively) plus others makes this a singer to watch.
Emilie-Claire Barlow 
Haven't We Met (newest CD)

It's not for being a pretty picture that garnered a her recent nomination for Female Vocalist of the Year at the 2009 National Jazz Awards. Here is a light and  breezy singer that just takes over each song for her own. I hesitate to say 'capable' but there is that consumate style of a performer who knows her abilities and effect, as well as she does the song. Haven't We Met is a song too often over-looked and underplayed and Barlow sets it free - along with You Must Believe in Spring which is sweet and gentle, parlaying a bit of hope in each bit of phrasing.

Jillian Horton

Pick a cut, any cut, and you’ll be a fan. CBC wisely played a few cuts awhile back (All the Pretty Horses, Less of Me, Winnipeg) and raves for this doctor/singer have been unanimous. Horton is a little jazz, a little piano bar, a little folk, and a lot of originality. What captures the ear is the original stylings and voice, not to mention poetic lyrics and strong melodies of a unique songwriter and performer. There is a lilt and poignancy both – you’ll come away happy, soothed and humming tunes of songs that seem they were always a part of the musical landscape. Launched in 2004, all anyone can say is: where and when’s is the next Horton CD? Most listeners wax on about Pretty Horses, and Winnipeg but I am a shoe in for Strong Coffee, Untouchable and the lyrical Song for an Evening in June.
Don’t forget to check out KT Tunstall, a guitar gal who has that raspy voice of a young Bonnie Raitt and the moxie of KD Lang’s starter days. There is something in the no-frills/just great tunes, non-conformity and musical feistiness of this newish, gypsy/street sort of performer, musician/composer. Most ears will be attuned to her hit Black Horse and the Cherry Tree but since her appearance on Ellen, you will be also soon be humming along to her other hit Suddenly I See. Totally fresh and rockable – especially if you like great guitar and this rare sense of authenticity that cuts through the MTV slickness. Like John Mayer, this artist is bound to be around awhile in a way the one-trick pony rock/pop/ machines won’t.
Anne Lindsay
I heard a few cuts of Anne Lindsay’s new cd on CBC and got the music immediately.
It is upbeat, soulful, great lyrics as well as solely instrumental/fiddle, folk music with a real Celtic/New Orleans/ kinda jive. If you like folk, jazz, country, blues, or contemporary – you will like this unusual performer/musician/singer/composer. He Shoots He Scores is for hockey fans that appreciate great music and Wichita Fog brings to mind Gordon Lightfoot’s early stuff –but with another sort of originality, and a fresh feminine spin on roots music.
Song –Lament of the Lazy Lover+
This is a truly unique composer singer those cut, Lament of the Lazy Lover is part 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover and part Sting’s Englishman in New York and many more parts pure Janine Stoll. This is a hard to categorize music/artist but the song, is so charming musically and lyrically, you’ll be hooked. A sleeper.
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