OK, let's hear it for contraltos. No, I'm not a fan of opera (where the term originated), but I've concluded that I'm a total sucker for contemporary female vocalists whose voices fall in that range. I'm sifting through my music collection and making a playlist of my favorites that feature this type of vocal.
- Mary Fahl. Former lead singer for October Project (their first two albums are excellent, mostly because of her vocals). She's also released two solo projects -- "The Other Side of Time" was disappointing due to rather weak material; however the other one, "From The Dark Side of the Moon", is an amazing contemporary cover of the entire Pink Floyd album. Not better than the original, but different... in a good way.
- Suze DeMarchi. Lead singer for the Aussie band Baby Animals. BA's self-titled debut album (from many years back) is one of my "desert island discs". After a mediocre sophomore effort they broke up. They've recently gotten back together, and their comeback album "This Is Not The End" is pretty good. Her solo effort from a decade or so ago, "Telelove", is decent but probably not worth seeking out unless you're in love with her voice like I am.
(Trivia: Was married to Nuno Bettencourt, lead guitarist for the hair/prog metal band Extreme... whose album "III Sides" also makes my "desert island disc" list, but for entirely different reasons. Lyrics of the 1st track on the new BA album sounds like they may be about their divorce... heh.)
- Happy Rhodes. Obscure cult folk/electronica/prog musician with a 4-octave vocal range that sounds like Annie Lennox on the low end, Kate Bush on the high end.
- Fiona Apple. OK, so she's gone off the deep end lately and will likely end up being one more entry on the long list of young musicians who peaked early, then crashed and burned. But her debut album "Tidal" still gives me chills. Holy crap. Second album's decent too. After that it just gets... kinda weird. But I still love her voice.
- Sass Jordan. Bluesy, clearly a Janis Joplin wannabee of sorts. Her hard rockin' early '90s releases "Racine" and "Rats" might make my "desert island discs" list depending on how long you let me make it.
The years just pass like trains. I wave, but they don't slow down.
-- Steven Wilson