beautiful, female singer, strange lyrics
March 20, 2012 4:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to find a singer/song-writer who I heard for the first time 3 years ago. She had a soft, high, very feminine voice, and the lyrics were entirely nonsensical (although grammatically correct), detailed descriptions of bizarre circumstances. This might not be true of all of her songs, but I remember, many times, thinking "god this song is beautiful... /wait/ what's it about?!"

I mean really truly bizarre descriptions - strange lyrics, although I would say they were typicaly more like a string of words carrying the beautiful melody than the focus of the songs. The melodies were lofty, and beautiful, fairly simple structure, complex harmonies for most songs (I think, I don't really know any music theory!). With, /I think/ violin accompaniment in addition to piano etc.

Any help with this ID much appreciated!
Thanks! :)
posted by ch3cooh to Media & Arts (45 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Joanna Newsom uses a harp, but she was the first musician who came to my mind.
posted by zoomorphic at 4:38 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I felt like Newsom was a great guess, but the harp stuff is so specific. Mary Timony, maybe?
posted by GilloD at 4:39 PM on March 20, 2012

joanna newsome?
peach plum pear
the book of right on
posted by nadawi at 4:39 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

ha! minds, thinking a like
posted by nadawi at 4:40 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Could it be Tori Amos? Her lyrics seem a little strange sometimes, her voice is feminine, and the piano is her primary instrument.
posted by MFZ at 4:40 PM on March 20, 2012

Best answer: Sounds like a match for Tori Amos, but she has been around for 15+ years.
posted by wg at 4:41 PM on March 20, 2012

Wrong instrumentation, style, and timing, but you might like Cocteau Twins.
posted by bink at 4:43 PM on March 20, 2012

tori has a huge catalog. in 2009, this was the sort of thing she was doing.
posted by nadawi at 4:45 PM on March 20, 2012

Vashti Bunyan?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:45 PM on March 20, 2012

Throwing Muses? or independently: Kristin Hersh, or Tanya Donelly?
posted by humboldt32 at 4:57 PM on March 20, 2012

Mia Doi Todd?
Azure Ray?
posted by juniperesque at 4:57 PM on March 20, 2012

If the sound of her voice kind of made you want to stab yourself in the ear with a pencil, then it's Joanna Newsom.
posted by elizardbits at 5:12 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Múm? Green Grass Of Tunnel
posted by at the crossroads at 5:14 PM on March 20, 2012

posted by lovermont at 5:20 PM on March 20, 2012

Nelly McKay?
posted by bunderful at 5:22 PM on March 20, 2012

Best answer: Regina Spektor? I've heard people describe her vocal stylings in a variety of ways.
posted by Juniper Toast at 5:32 PM on March 20, 2012

Stina Nordenstam
posted by rhizome at 5:32 PM on March 20, 2012

Regina Spektor? Auteur of such oddball gems as Apres Moi ("be afraid of the old, they'll inherit your souls/be afraid of the cold, they'll inherit your blood"), 20 Years of Snow and Aching to Pupate (only lyrics are "aching to pupate/aching to pupate")?

Most famous for "Fidelity," which is way more comprehensible.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:43 PM on March 20, 2012

I can't imagine she'd be new to you, but maybe...Bjork?
posted by xingcat at 5:49 PM on March 20, 2012

Aside from Newsom I'd almost say Sigur Ros/Jonsi, whose voice is often so high it's not impossible to mistake it for female, except I'm not sure he's actually sung anything in English.
posted by curious nu at 5:58 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Shot in the dark: Julee Cruise
posted by trunk muffins at 5:59 PM on March 20, 2012

St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark)?
posted by dywypi at 6:02 PM on March 20, 2012

Kate Bush? She has a new album out (50 Words For Snow) that is very good btw.
posted by Muirwylde at 6:10 PM on March 20, 2012

Maybe Ellie Goulding, but I'm inclined to think Regina Spektor also.
posted by ApathyGirl at 6:29 PM on March 20, 2012

Lisa Hannigan?
posted by TwoWordReview at 6:35 PM on March 20, 2012

Jesca Hoop?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:50 PM on March 20, 2012

Bertie Blackman?
posted by Kerasia at 8:04 PM on March 20, 2012

Cibo Matto?
posted by segfault at 8:40 PM on March 20, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you so much if you've posted a suggestion. Vocally/instrumentally, Tori Amos and Regina Spektor are definitely the closest matches, but they've both written so much, I can't listen to enough of their music to find a specific piece... strange enough to be what I heard three years ago.

Here's as much detail as I can summon from the unreliable edges of 3yr old memories:

When I said strange lyrics, I should have put more emphasis on the fact they were truly bizarre, not just abstract. It was like she was rambling out a description of people, places, and objects in a narrative or short story with no focus and strange, possibly disturbing details. Not an entirely coherent description of the imagery, but at least mostly grammatically correct.

I wish I could remember /any/ of the details about what the description was about! The closest I think I can get is a 'mental picture' of what she was describing. I think part the song depicted a secluded lake and a boat and a girl in the boat, who possibly gets lost or dies somehow out on the lake... but there were stranger parts that /should/ have been more memorable. Also, if everything fits with your idea for what the song could be besides this last paragraph, post it! I might be very wrong about this last bit!

And, again, thank you so much for helping me with this! I am thoroughly appreciative for getting to listen to all of the artists posted thus far.
posted by ch3cooh at 9:40 PM on March 20, 2012

Reverie Sound Revue?
Rainer Maria?
posted by oxfordcomma at 9:42 PM on March 20, 2012

Neko Case? Very long shot.
posted by Occula at 9:45 PM on March 20, 2012

Regina Spektor's Genius Next Door has strings and piano and mentions a lake.
posted by roomwithaview at 9:48 PM on March 20, 2012

Not saying it's THE song, but here's a Tori Amos lyric that might have the feel you refer to.
posted by The Deej at 10:19 PM on March 20, 2012

That description does ring a lot of bells for Genius Next Door by Regina.
posted by chiquitita at 11:58 PM on March 20, 2012

This is a random thought, and probably wrong, but Feist?
posted by davejay at 1:06 AM on March 21, 2012

Throwing this out there as a random factor:

Robyn Leah Case?
posted by DisreputableDog at 1:49 AM on March 21, 2012

Space Dog was the Tori song that sprang to mind for me.

I think today is going to be an Under the Pink kind of day. *fires up Spotify*
posted by corvine at 3:53 AM on March 21, 2012

Ekova? Ekova is a French-based trio, headed by American-born Dierdre Dubois, who originated the name. "Its roots are in echo, and ova, signifying the feminine side," she explains. "But it's not supposed to have a literal meaning, just a beautiful sound. I wanted a word I'd never heard before." Much of her lyricism shares the linguistic experimentalism/artistry of their name, with utterances floating in between Celtic, English, and Persian at times, as well as influences from Irish and English folk.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:45 AM on March 21, 2012

Your "girl/lake/dies" reference made me think of Karen Savoca.

I somewhat remember a haunting song by her with a similar reference - but can't recall the title. She is folk - kind of a poetic style. Likely one of her first albums, as I have not listened to her for 10+years.
posted by what's her name at 7:42 AM on March 21, 2012

Laura Veirs?
posted by taltalim at 9:17 AM on March 21, 2012

Could it be Back of a Truck by Regina Spektor?
posted by minifigs at 9:27 AM on March 21, 2012

The first thing that came to my mind was People Got a Lotta Nerve by Neko Case...
posted by BevosAngryGhost at 2:26 PM on March 21, 2012

Seconding Laura Veirs... Lake Swimming?
posted by itwasyou at 6:49 PM on March 21, 2012

Florence and the Machine? Her songs are usually richly orchestrated with interesting lyrics, and water and women drowning in it are a theme in more than one.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:39 PM on March 21, 2012

Long shot here, but how about Loreena McKennitt singing Lady of Shalott?
posted by tkolstee at 8:06 AM on March 27, 2012

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