Saturday, July 17, 2010

Solitary Woman: the rise of the one-woman band

Lianne Hall at Slaughtered Lamb in London; photo by Val PhoenixI don't know if it's the allure of total control or simple economics, but I do notice a plethora of one-woman bands knocking about at the moment, laden with guitars, laptops and effects pedals.

I have had the pleasure of meeting a few of these acts recently and, indeed, next week's (22 July) Odd Girl Out features the session Golden Disko Ship did when she came in last month on a visit to the UK. She referred jokingly to her set-up as her "ego trip", albeit in a very self-deprecating way.

This week also saw the release of Girl In a Thunderbolt's album, Seven Sisters, recorded some time ago in Norway. She is already well underway with fresh material, but the tracks on here are well-produced, showcasing a distinctive vocal style keeping just this side of overly mannered and set to some moody, brooding tunes.

Also out is Lianne Hall's album, Crossing Wires. I first came across her when she was in the art-punk band Witchknot, who were mainstays of the DIY Bradford scene back in the '90s, but then lost touch with what she was doing once she moved to Brighton. I know she was in the band Pico and also playing solo, but then saw her playing last month in London. She is what I might call an amplified singer-songwriter. The songs seem to come from a foundation of acoustic guitar, but are then gussied up with electronics. Her voice, too, is made for confessional song-writing, with a plaintive, highly emotive quality. While the songs on Crossing Wires are a mixture of sparse ballads and up-tempo songs, I actually prefer the more produced ones, as they take the songs to new places.

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