Monday, July 23, 2012

And Now for Something Completely Different

I'm sure you haven't escaped hearing a certain song by an Australian guy called "Somebody That I Used to Know".  I'm also sure you've noticed that there's a woman in the song.

She's on the right, Snarkface.

You may have thought "Eh, she's got a nice voice.  Kinda quiet, though.  Meh.  This is Gotye's song."

Oh ho ho, how little you know about this woman.

Her name is Kimbra Lee Johnson, known professionally as Kimbra, and she's from New Zealand.  She's got an album out, called Vows, but she's also showed up on songs from multiple Australian artists, including Gotye and Miami Horror:

Again, nice voice, but quiet, right?

I repeat: how little you know about this woman.

It seems like other people like to have Kimbra sing for them because she can have this ethereal, airy quality when she sings, and that adds a different flavor than what we're used to these days with most female pop artists singing through their nose or belting like they're in musical theatre.

But Kimbra is so, SO much more than an airy voice.

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Kimbra from her "Cameo Lover" video
I first discovered her two years ago, on the one day in my life I was browsing the blog Joe. My. God. and he had a link to the music video for Kimbra's song "Cameo Lover".  She sounded pretty pop-ish in the video, but I was drawn to her visual aesthetic and the overall sound.  It was like a strange combination of contemporary pop and 1960's soul.  I couldn't get the darn song out of my head, either.

I went digging around to see find some of her other songs, and found that a lot of her stuff is much more jazz- or soul-influenced, along with a certain edge to the lyrics and subject matter (her song "Settle Down," for instance, satirizes the dream of little girls to have the perfect husband and be the perfect wife).  I liked what I heard, so I stuck with her.  Kimbra's album hadn't yet been released in the US, so I decided to wait for when it came out to be able to hear more of her stuff.

Somehow, I can't remember how, I came across Kimbra's cover of Nina Simone's "Plain Gold Ring."  And with that song, I learned what Kimbra is truly made of.

Even if you listen to nothing else Kimbra ever puts out ever, even if you'd dismissed her because of her airy performance on "Somebody That I Used to Know," you need to listen to this song in its entirety.

You don't get a talent like that every day, or even every decade.  Kimbra turned 22 this year, and she's one of the most amazing singers I've heard of my generation.

Just take a moment and think about how many singers you've heard with that vocal range, that emotion, that pure passion for her art.  Kimbra is something incredibly special, and she deserves more attention.

So go listen to some of her music and show her some love.

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