I love talking up other musicians, both because discovering and sharing great music is awesome and because we all need to look out for one another. It would be easy to feel competitive with so many extraordinary local acts, but my good friend, singer-songwriter Roem Baur likes to tell me that not one of your fans has just one CD. So here are three Seattle acts whose work I would love to see my fans pick up.
It’s easy to get lost in Five Letters From Far Away, the latest release from Seattle cosmic folk rock trio Julia Massey & the Five Finger Discount.
I particularly respect the way that Massey approaches her vocal performance on standout track “Who Silently Suffers?” It’s extraordinarily difficult to be both etherial and powerful, and to deliver such a relaxed vocal performance without sounding either pitchy or lazy. Massey pulls it off flawlessly. I’m also a huge fan of the group’s choice to include the perfect lyrical and musical compliment of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” as the song’s denouement.
Also of note on this album are “Back Door Open” and “Top 100” which both feature standout keys performances by Massey, and the terrific wordplay of “Marquee Malarkey.”
Whitney Mongé has been one of my favorite Seattle artists since I stumbled across a recording of “Crash” in a friend’s Spotify playlist while I was going through a bad breakup. Her voice is at once melodic and gritty, and she tells stories that are easy to empathize with. I’m particularly moved by “Walls,” which speaks of a lover too guarded to reach. Mongé has historically been a fixture of the busking scene at Seattle’s Pike Place Market, but lately she’s getting so many bookings and packing so many shows that it’s growing much harder to find her performing on the street. I fully expect 2013 to be her year.
City Faire is a very recent addition to my rotation, but I was instantly drawn to “Gone” both for the soulful lead vocal performance and explosive percussion line. And if you like blues and jazz-infused rock, then you really shouldn’t miss their live recording of “I’ll Be That.”