If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you know I’m picky when it comes to women vocalists. There just are very few that I will listen to and even fewer that I actually enjoy. Lori Chaffer of Waterdeep, Sarah MacIntosh, St. Vincent, and Rosie Thomas are some of the few that I will go out of my way to listen to because I enjoy their voices. I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but my point is that too many women artists have a very similar way of singing, a style that doesn’t grab me in particular.
So whenever I get an album featuring a female vocalist, I have mixed emotions. Part of me is excited about the possibility of discovering another Lori Chaffer… or a Rosie Thomas perhaps. But the other part of me is tired of all the women who sound the same, and that part doesn’t even want to give the album a chance.
When I was asked to review a pre-release copy of Anadara’s new album A Little Closer, those two emotions conflicted in my head for… oh almost 3 months. After listening to the album and putting it away over and over again, I think I’m ready to offer a balanced review today.
I’m still a mix of thoughts. Part of me wants to rant about how I’m tired of women artists doing the same thing over and over again. It feels like most albums featuring women vocalists ignore the music and focus almost solely on the vocals. I don’t know if marketing guys think this is all people want, or if the women themselves just like singing so much they don’t think about the rest, or if people think this is the best way to show off a great voice, or if most of the world really only wants women to sing and not produce music of equal caliber to the vocals… Either way, it’s annoying.
I’d really like to see more women with great voices producing music that is great not just because of their great voice, but great also because of the great music and great lyrics. That’s a lot of greats…
I don’t want to sound overly negative even before I start talking about Anadara’s new album itself, but I just had to get that off my chest. I’ll readily admit that Anadara’s vocal and music style is principally one that I don’t normally like. There are some interesting musical elements going on here and there, and some of the lyrics are very well-written, but the songs focus almost solely on her voice, leaving music and lyrics that are usually just OK, if not a tad boring.
It’s a very “Christian” sounding album. You’ll know what I mean when you listen to the MP3s, if you don’t already know.
To be granted, Anadara does have a great voice, and the album isn’t bad. Songs like “Saturdays and Streetlights,” “Love is the Exception,” and “What I Do With Your Time” are really catchy folk-pop songs. “NYC” is a really fun, jazzy, 70s sounding song with some cool bass and horns. “Saving Love” is a good instant hit for Christian radio, with enough beat to be interesting but not so much to draw away from the vocals. “Fill Me Up” is a great, easy to sing, stripped-down worship song that I like quite a bit. “Orphan’s Lullaby” brings things down even further, giving Anadara a chance to really show off her voice.
So, while Anadara doesn’t stray far from the female singer-songwriter with a great voice format, within that format, there are some songs that are worth listening to. I’ve included my two favorites below. “Orphan’s Lullaby” has some great words, and the stripped-down approach works really well with Anadara’s voice. And “NYC” breaks a few molds by drawing on some clear 70s jazz influences. It really does capture the feel of New York City, in a new light.
So here are my favorite two songs from Anadara’s new album A Little Closer:
Note: All MP3s will be removed after one week