Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged songwriter

Small Source of Comfort

Full disclosure: Bruce Cockburn (COE-burn) is Canadian; I’m Canadian. There aren’t that many of us. We’re the world’s second largest country, with a population smaller than California. So we back our homeys when they’re world-class: Angela Hewitt, Frederick Banting, Sandra Oh, Denys Arcand, Jim Carrey, Diana Krall, Leonard Cohen, Karen Kain, Tom Thomson, David Suzuki, Cirque du Soleil.

Live in Louisville

“Well you have it, you love it, now it’s your turn to shove it…I don’t want to play house anymore,” sings Carrie Rodriguez on her newly released live compilation album, Live in Louisville. Her soulful voice, accompanied by rousing fiddles, makes her point with grace and force.


Former Final Fantasy mastermind Owen Pallett’s voice is one of my favorites in music right now.

No Rest

Brooklyn songstress roommates, longtime collaborators, and bestie brunettes Christy Edwards and Emily Manzo have hipster cred out the wazoo. So do loads of other borough-based bands, but few have the raw talent of these two singer-songwriter women—a label that hardly defines the true depth of their talent. Their music, at times hauntingly sparse, reverberates with their lush voices and minimal instrumentation, often just Christy’s guitar or Emily’s keyboard. Sound cloying? The opposite is true.

Voice of an Angel: Talking to Jill Andrews

When I first spoke to singer Jill Andrews, I was quite shocked when she first answered the phone. Her voice was low, slow, and groggy, which wasn’t what I was expecting. You see, Andrews quite literally has the voice of an angel. As it turned out, I was waking her up from a peaceful nap with her infant son, Nico. Nico was born around the time that Andrews’ critically acclaimed, Tennessee-based band, The Everybodyfields, broke up.

A Cave, A Canoo

The deliberate mis-spelling of canoo in the title and opening track of singer-songwriter Shelley Short’s third album is never really explained, but makes sense on an unstated level. The phonetics on this album take center stage in attempting to interpret literal meanings to ambiguously dreamy lyrics. A Cave, A Canoo is a lovely, lulling album that does not shock or surprise in any way.

Know Better Learn Faster

“Messy” and “complicated” could very well be the two best words for defining romantic love. As suggested by the title of Thao with The Get Down Stay Down’s latest record, Know Better Learn Faster, the brokenhearted masses could easily avoid painful relationships if they were just plain smarter and quicker learners.


When I found out Clarissa Cupéro was only nineteen years old, I did a double take. Her gritty alto is substantial, forceful; it speaks of experience. Cupéro, a New York state native, is currently a student at Sienna College, and in addition to taking classes, she performs her songs for campus benefits (including concerts to aid student organizations such as Students Active for Ending Rape).

Homemade Ship

Rose Melberg made a name for herself in the nineties as a singer and guitarist for bands like the Softies, Tiger Trap, and Go Sailor.

Gina Villalobos

The fourth studio album from indie folk rocker Gina Villalobos rolls off right away with “Take a Beating to You” and from then on out, Villalobos and her voice go on a journey both swift and slow. With honest and painful lyrics penned mostly by Villalobos herself, the record rises to the top of the alt country/rock genre and may be a breakout hit for this year.

Victoria Day

My first taste of Melissa McClelland came about a year ago when a friend had me listen to her beautiful rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s ballad of the working class "Factory." Her version gave a feminine and country-tinged perspective that worked brilliantly with the song.

Here Come the Vikings

Astrid Williamson is a Scottish-born musician, who has been compared to Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac and lists among her influences the canon of American singer-songwriters, such as Bob Dylan and [Joni Mitchell](http://feministreview.blogspot.com

A Ways Away

I think I’m genetically predisposed to rock; it’s in my blood or something. I want things to be loud, sometimes fast, and always frantic. I like it when a bass line’s so fat you can feel it in your crotch. I like it when guitars rip through your eardrums. I especially like it when a drum beat is so loud you can mistake it for your own pulse.

Good Evening

Somewhere, there is an indie coming-of-age film that is just begging to be scored by Nite Jewel. Nite Jewel is the stage name of one Ramona Gonzalez, a songwriter and composer who hails from Los Angeles California. Using a multi-track cassette recorder, keyboard, drums and other various instruments, Nite Jewel’s music is reminiscent of that synthesized techno pop sound that reached its pinnacle in the 1980s.

Look Ahead

Chrissy Coughlin’s sound is an amalgamation of pop, indie, and folk, but overall it’s good songwriting, and she switches styles with aplomb. “Back to You” starts the album out kicking; it’s a peppy, upbeat tune marked by a strong beat and understated organ. The lyrics of this toe-tapping power rock song are somewhat trite (“If I don’t turn around and stay I would be a fool/I’m coming back to you”), but it’s absolutely fun nevertheless.

Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle

I once happened upon a Callahan show at Boston’s MFA with friends who are seasoned fans of the Smog oeuvre.

Nocturnal Drifter

"I consider all of the arts to be interconnected," writes Jessie Kilguss, who began a career as a film actor before shifting media to become a singer.

On The Ground

Damien DeRose, the musician and songwriter behind the Peasant name, could be any hybrid of melancholy and charming—The Shins meets the late Elliott Smith—a consumable sadness that Wes Anderson will no doubt eventually co-opt for a postmodern movie soundtrack

Tegan and Sara (10/9/2008)

It must be nice to be in a band with your twin sister. Shared skinny jeans, skinny genes, and hipster hair products make costuming a breeze, and a sound-alike bandmate eliminates the technical hassle of overdubbing vocals. Plus, you know the other person so well that you can make fun of them on stage, as Canadian duo Tegan and Sara demonstrated at Chicago’s Riveria Theatre. “I forgot what a shithole this place is,” my 'plus one', better known as Grace Yip from Grace the Spot, lovingly remarked upon our arrival.

Katie Sawicki (5/22/2008)

Seeing Katie Sawicki live is, quite simply, wonderful. I am currently listening to her album, and as she honestly tells her own stories, I am inspired to write a narrative as a review. I went to see Katie Sawicki at The Living Room in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Lake Bottom LP

The Chapin Sisters are a trio of gifted recordings artists who have managed to reinvent the love song by incorporating a touch of irony into their modern interpretation of folk- and roots-inspired pop.

Keep Singing! A Benefit Compilation For Compassion Over Killing

Beautiful art graces the cover of this album, entrancing me as I hear Gina Young introduce both the tone and ethics of the compilation. I quickly feel enveloped by the politics and clarity of these artists.

Death of the Sun

Former singer/songwriter of the Metallic Falcons (with CocoRosie's Sierra Cassady), Matteah Baim branched out on her own not long ago and has come forth with her debut solo album, which includes collaborations with some of today’s biggest names in hipster folk, including Devendra Banhart and 90 Day Men’s Rob Lowe. While the musical composition stands out to me more than Baim’s crackling voice, her cover of the African-American spiritual, "Michael Row Your Boat Ashore (Michael Row)," is a delightful surprise halfway through the disc.

All the Strays

Sitting in a warm living room with your closest friends enjoying each other’s thoughts and company is exactly how you feel when the first song of this album strums - and it only gets better from there. Antara’s third solo album, All the Strays, comes at you like a warm cup of coffee… a fall evening by the fire… or an embrace of an old friend.

When Your Feet Hit the Stars

The first time I listened to Carrie Biell’s new album, When Your Feet Hit the Stars, I felt like falling asleep. All but nine of its ten songs are ballads. However, during the second listen I came to appreciate Biell’s smoky, soulful voice. The music is indeed mellow and great to listen to when you are stressed out. However, there are two songs that pick up the pace a bit.

Family Tree

It's hard to listen to Nick Drake and not be reminded of those VW commercials where "Pink Moon" played while hipsters rode through the dark in their cabriolet. Nick Drake has the voice that you hear in your dreams at night. His new release, Family Tree, contains songs he recorded with his mother and family before having a record deal. Nick Drake masterfully fingers folk songs on his guitar and sometimes the piano.

On the Way

Moore was one of many women who benefited from the movement in music that Lilith Fair generated, bringing many unknown female artists to the forefront of the public’s consciousness. There are traces of the peppy pop-sensibility that earned Moore her fame with her hit single “Four-Leaf Clover,” but On the Way is a more mature and introspective endeavor.

New Moon

In my Alabama high school, our English teacher had us select writers to do a report on. She carefully went down the list announcing a name with a short one-line bio to quickly introduce the writer to the class. My hand shot up to claim Sylvia Plath when I learned she committed suicide in her thirties; I was morbidly intrigued. In preparation for that school report I remember sitting in the library with headphones on listening to a BBC recording Plath made of her poem "Lady Lazarus." I can still hear the tone in her voice when she announces: "I have done it again.


As I listened to Elizabeth Cook’s new album Balls, I wanted to open the window and scream, “Why doesn’t country radio play her songs?” I love country music that sounds authentic, the kind that one has to search the internet to find. Cook’s music definitely fits the bill. I really appreciated the blend of different old-time sounds: bluegrass, rockabilly and traditional country.

Children Running Through

Patty Griffin is a storyteller. Rarely confessional or self-indulgent, she tells tales, assumes personas and takes the listener deep into the lives of her characters. Each persona has her or his own musical interpretation, deepening and strengthening the voice. In “Up to the Mountain (MLK Song),” Griffin assumes the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and puts herself into to the head and heart of a man working for a vision and a dream.