Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mary Ramsey - the Anti-Amy



Daily Duck regulars know that I am not an articulate music critic. I like what I like without necessarily knowing why I like it. Knowing why may be an interesting intellectual exercise, but it isn't necessary for enjoying music. But seeing as how Brit and I have considerably conflicting tastes in divas, I thought I'd spend some effort articulating why I like Mary Ramsey so much more than Amy Winehouse.

Mary Ramsey gained some moderate amount of fame as Natalie Merchant's replacement as lead singer for the band "10000 Maniacs". She is a classically trained violinist and violist who teamed up with 10000 Maniacs founding member & lead guitarist John Lombardo to write and produce several albums as the duo "John and Mary".

Having become a fan of the duo from their 10000 Maniacs CD "Love Among the Ruins" I managed to hunt down and purchase two of their John and Mary CD's, which arrived in the mail last week: "The Pinwheel Galaxy" and "The Weedkiller's Daughter".

Their music can best be categorized as folk. But categories aren't always very helpful, as I dislike much music from that category. Their music borrows from classical, rock, and even some country motifs. As to whether it is maudlin or not I cannot say, as I still do not understand how Brit uses the term. This is why I find it hard to describe musical experiences with words.

A less polite way to describe their music is "white". Another unpolite word would be "square". Which describes me perfectly. I am a white square. I give no apologies for that. I find Ramsey's voice beautifully melodic. It is a pre-jazz, pre-blues, pre-soul American voice, clear and clean with none of the vocal affects, the wailing, drawn out, undulating, bee-booping and scatting excess that seems to be de-rigeur for any aspiring diva today. Simon Cowell would no doubt call her an extreme bore.

So if you don't mind being thought of as a square, and don't feel that every female singer has to be in the mold of Aretha Franklin, then you might learn to enjoy the music of John and Mary.

14 Comments:

Blogger Oroborous said...

For me, that was nice - but not better than "nice". But I'm much more of a dance/trance kinda guy, so...

Also, (and this is probably unnecessarily pedantic), while John and Mary might be in the tradition of "folk", the featured video was definitely "pop".

April 28, 2007 9:13 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Nice is good. I like nice music.

I will disagree with your contention that it is pop. Such categories can be hoplessly subjective, but I'd say that the defining characteristic of pop is popular. Pop music is music that is produced with the intention of fitting in to the popular tastes of generally the teenage or early 20's cohort. Another term that comes to mind is "bubblegum music". Acts like N'Sync or Backstreet Boys or Britney Spears are pop. John and Mary don't fit that profile. They definitely aren't popular. You don't hear their songs on the radio. I'm not sure of their demographic fan base, but it is probably the 30 and 40-somethings. It's not the pop demographic.

April 28, 2007 10:05 AM  
Blogger monix said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 28, 2007 11:02 AM  
Blogger monix said...

Nice is very good.
I hadn't heard of this duo before but I would happily add them to my collection which is pretty eclectic and even includes a bit of Amy.

April 28, 2007 11:12 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Monix
Great minds think alike ;-)

April 28, 2007 11:18 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Monix, if you like John and Mary, you'll probably also like Madeleine Peyroux. She sings a kind of folksy jazz. Here's a taste of her music:

Her "Careless Love" cd is great.

April 28, 2007 11:27 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Dunno. The clip reminded me strongly of the feel of Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna Do", which was pop.

April 28, 2007 11:30 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

The video is a little cheezy. I can't stand music videos that have non-musical intro segments. I'm arguing more about the music. This was the only John and Mary clip on YouTube.

April 28, 2007 11:41 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Yes, I mean that that particular piece is pop, not that the video is.

April 28, 2007 1:32 PM  
Blogger monix said...

Thanks for the introduction to Madeleine Peyroux. I like her voice but found the guitar a bit incongruous. If I had just heard and not seen it, I would have pictured her in a dark, smoky jazz club. Good though.

April 28, 2007 1:45 PM  
Blogger monix said...

Was your 'great minds' in response to my deleted comment? I thought it might be misinterpreted, but it does concern me.

April 28, 2007 1:47 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

No, it was in response to "Nice is very good." Since you deleted the comment I didn't think it proper to say anything about it.

April 28, 2007 1:51 PM  
Blogger Brit said...

Pleasant, and slightly less boring than The Corrs.

April 29, 2007 3:44 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Pleasant is good. I get my excitement on the pistol range.

April 29, 2007 7:25 AM  

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