I first found The Singing Mechanic while perusing through the artists signed with Sounds Familyre Records. Despite the fact that his name conjurs up images (at least in my head) of that famous dancing and singing crew of men, men in tights in the movie by the same name, The Singing Mechanic is a pretty swell artist to have in your library.
I had a few songs off the 2001 album It Wouldn’t Be What It Is, and I enjoyed them enough to listen off and on, but just recently, after downloading the whole album, I’ve really begun to appreciate the music of Vincent Voss.
One of the coolest and saddest things about Vincent Voss the Singing Mechanic is that he’s just a normal guy who’s good at music. He’s not a rock star or indie celebrity. He’s not (as far as I know anyway) touring the country, working on his latest album, or getting a sun tan under the spotlight of wannabe emergent hipsters. He seems very unassuming and likable.
The down side to all this is that you may have a hard time finding the stuff he’s done, and an even harder time waiting for the new album that he’s not making. To state that in English: I don’t know how long he’ll be making music, and I don’t know if we’ll ever see anything new from him beyond what we have, which would be a shame.
Anyway, Vincent Voss was born in Tacoma, Washington, but he’s not all scary West Coast – he moved to Wisconsin for a while to write songs and pursue his future wife. (Note: I actually really love what I’ve seen of the West Coast and would think it an awesome thing to be able to live in the Pacific Northwest in particular.)
Here’s some of what he says about himself on his bio at Sounds Familyre Records:
As a child, I listened to classical music until I was eleven, that was all I was allowed to listen to. My first rock album was the Back To The Future soundtrack. Following that was: Ghost Busters, Slippery When Wet, Hysteria, Appetite For Destruction, etc. Musically, nothing connected with me as well as the Men Without Hats album – Pop Goes The World. I wore this tape out over the next ten years.
“The Singing Mechanic” comes from my life as a mechanic. I was barely twenty when I started “Vinnie’s Bus’iness” which was a mobile repair and used parts service specializing in, but not limited to, Volkswagen buses. I got to know many people of all walks of life through the Bus’iness. I met Blake Wescott, Dave Bazon and Damien Jurado. I was immediately welcomed as the Damien Jurado Band keyboard player. This was my introduction to keyboard playing. As soon as I knew more than three chords, I started writing songs. I wrote several songs about cars, cats and dying ? all prominent issues in my life. Damien occasionally let me play a couple songs before or after his set. People wanted to know what I called myself. Short on a band name I called myself “The Singing Mechanic”, that was in 1997.
Since then, he’s gone on to write and record songs for his only album I know of, It Wouldn’t Be What It Is, and he still works as a full-time mechanic. He even did a blog post with advice about buying a used car, which you can read over here. From all I can tell, he’s a Christian and he takes his beliefs seriously, but he’s not pushy and preachy about it in the music.
And what is the music like? The songs vary a lot, but throughout all of them, the piano holds everything together. There are other instruments, there’s singing, there’s percussion, but the piano is what’s central. I usually have a hard time with piano music. From my experience, there’s been a general lack of creativity as of late among bands who emphasize the piano, as if everyone is trying to copy Coldplay’s keyboard work, but The Singing Mechanic isn’t just copying the formulas of the “piano-driven pop-rock” that has become so popular. Vincent is really talented at piano, and he draws a lot from classical and parlor music, bringing things out of the realm of what’s usually “acceptable” in popular music.
Lyrically, he’s a great writer, using images and stories to capture feelings and emotions like the best Bob Dylan-inspired folk guitarist. It’s a very interesting combination – the folk leanings of the lyrics mixed with the classically-tinged piano playing. For a more in-depth review of his album It Wouldn’t Be What it Is, head on over here.
The Singing Mechanic doesn’t have a lot of stuff out there you can get your hands on, so hopefully the two songs I’ve put up here will inspire you to buy all he’s got:
Note: All MP3s will be removed after one week