Most female musicians rely on two main musical ideas to craft their appeal- they go the pop-songstress angle, harmonizing stories of bad break-ups, late night telephone calls, and infectious lead melodies designed by the greatest of mega-producers. The other angle is the notoriously overplayed singer-songwriter angle, a melodious woman crooning over sad acoustic guitar melodies.
Both strategies work, I guess, but they are just a bit exhausting. Do we really need another Katy Perry? Are we sick and tired of the sad hipster girl with the pretty hair and love lost lyricism?
There interesting, but what is really interesting is the truly unique.
No matter all the cookie-cutter musicians, we will always have a decent amount of PJ Harvey’s or Bjork’s in the world, women who stand against the clichés of their gender and take on a whole new legion of potential weirdness and overwhelming cleverness.
Laura Duncan sits in that bizarre seat in the cafeteria, alongside the dorky but potentially genius girl’s who write mean things in their diaries. But she does it with class. Who would have thought?
Laura Duncan harnesses the power of blues and country-lorn lyrics and stories to create a brilliant and odd mixture for fans. Her voice is not traditionally entrancing; in the way that she would top an American Idol season. But it is heartwarming and easily embraceable, a warmness that makes the songs elongate at every bend.
Laura Duncan has crafted the album ‘Loud and Clear,’ and I can’t help but relate this literally- for all the bands in the world doing what they do, Duncan wants and deserves to be heard loud and clear. The album opens with a phenomenal vocal performance from Duncan, and a plodding though fascinating instrumental piano that hits all the right nerves and sets a precedent and tone for the release.
‘Little Drop of Tennessee’ seems to be a nostalgic story of times past, and finds Duncan recalling moments of time that enchanted her. ‘No Nada Mas’ is a somewhat eerie track that bounces along darkly, assisted greatly by the instrumentalist and other key component of Duncan’s work, Christopher Joya (the quiet though important second half to the group).
Don’t be confused. The album has a decent number of more traditional soft-rock ballads. The best here is ‘Where the Sad Sits,’ a testament to the power of Duncan’s lyrics. They are not relying on pop-rock clichés or typically treaded songstress formulas. Her vocal performance heightens this ‘freshness.’ Few sing in such a low spectrum or as nuanced as Duncan.
It is times like this where I wish the music world was judged objectively on the merits of the music. Duncan deserves greater fame and fortune because, quite frankly, her songs are top-tier. With some tighter production and some exploration with more instruments and sounds (the duo is restrained by being, well, a duo) Laura Duncan and Christopher Joya could accomplish many great things in this new musical terrain. The Internet allows this global reach, and may be the catalyst to the pair’s grand future.
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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