Female Sad Americana Music - Recommendations?
August 14, 2016 12:57 AM   Subscribe

I've been curating some playlists and realised that some of my favourite genres are really dude heavy. I love most inheritors of Springsteen, as well as his music. My absolute ideal would capture anything from Brian Fallon (The gaslight anthem, the horrible crows, or his solo work) Please recommend me some female or non-male artists that I might enjoy! (More favourites inside)

My favourite musician in the world right now is Brian Fallon, but I also love Frank Turner, Springsteen, Brandon Flowers/ The Killers, and David Hausse.

Female artists I love include Regina Spektor, Amanda Palmer (I know, but her music is really good!), LP, and Casey Lee Williams

Mixed bands I love: The Beautiful South, The Weepies, and Hey Ocean!

Thank-you so much! I primarily listen to music on Spotify, so availability on there is a massive help.
posted by Braeburn to Media & Arts (60 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Lucinda Williams!
posted by bendy at 1:38 AM on August 14, 2016 [9 favorites]

Wonder if Lisa Germano would hit the spot? KT Tunstall also moves around in that same spot. I rather like Martha Wainwright, Laura Marling and some Rilo Kiley/Jeny Lewis - they might also work for you.
posted by kariebookish at 2:40 AM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

A suggestion from a brilliant lurker was Amanda Shires.
I have since listened and am also a convert. To both that lurker and Amanda.

Garden Song
posted by taff at 3:39 AM on August 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

You might like Mary Gauthier.
posted by Cuke at 4:21 AM on August 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Neko Case
posted by greta simone at 4:30 AM on August 14, 2016 [9 favorites]

Fiona Apple
Lana Del Ray
Mazzy Star
Aimee Mann
posted by bearette at 4:34 AM on August 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Slightly rawer sound, but perhaps some Torres might fit the bill?
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:18 AM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hooray for the Riff Raff
posted by PinkMoose at 5:19 AM on August 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Came to say Hurray for the Riff Raff, but you might also like Hospitality and Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside.
posted by athirstforsalt at 5:36 AM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Indigo Girls
If you like The Weepies, then maybe Deb Talan's solo work
posted by bunderful at 5:46 AM on August 14, 2016

Deb Talan makes me think of Dar Williams, but she's definitely not sad.
posted by bunderful at 5:48 AM on August 14, 2016

Best answer: Earlyish Liz Phair-- Exile in Guyville and similar.

Iris Dement! (To go with the earlier Lucinda Williams recommendation.)
posted by frumiousb at 5:53 AM on August 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

And Canadian, not American, but don't forget Jane Siberry and the Cowboy Junkies.
posted by frumiousb at 5:56 AM on August 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

Emmylou Harris. Sample her "Red Dirt Girl."
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:59 AM on August 14, 2016

Seconding Lucinda, Neko, Cowboy Junkies, Iris, Emmylou. Adding First Aid Kit (try "Emmylou"), Gillian Welch(try "Time the Revelator"), and Wussy ("Motorcycle").
posted by notsnot at 6:07 AM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Haley Bonar
posted by Gortuk at 6:23 AM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Maybe not sad, but thoughtful for sure, Brandi Carlile?
posted by cecic at 6:27 AM on August 14, 2016

Best answer: Lydia Loveless
Shovels & Rope (m/f duo. Married couple, actually)
posted by Ufez Jones at 6:37 AM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Marissa Nadler! Very much.

Emily Jane White.
posted by mermaidcafe at 7:26 AM on August 14, 2016

Jenny Lewis
PJ Harvey
posted by betweenthebars at 8:11 AM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Everyone here has covered it pretty well, but a couple more I can think of are Waxahatchee and the related acts from the Crutchfields. Erica Freas of RVIVR put out a new album about 2 weeks ago and I think more is coming soon.
posted by littlewater at 8:20 AM on August 14, 2016

Dessa covered Springsteen. Her work, generally, is not in the genres you're asking about but some other things on Parts of Speech or Castor might fit.

I think Tanya Donelly's solo work fits in with "sad American music", particularly Whiskey Tango Ghosts, though I think Lovesongs for Underdogs is better.

Transmissionary Six make both sad and belligerent American music.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:23 AM on August 14, 2016

The kids are also pretty excited about this supergroup case/lang/viers.
posted by littlewater at 8:23 AM on August 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

The Weather Station.

Brenda Weiler.
posted by mykescipark at 8:34 AM on August 14, 2016

This may not fit in with what you love, but I can't recommend Banks highly enough.
posted by bookworm4125 at 8:42 AM on August 14, 2016

Nthing Neko case. Also, Gillian Welch for sure. The argument could be made for the Alabama Shakes too.

This is a weird one, but Robert Plant and Alison Krauss put together an album called Raising Sand that gets close to what you want, but they share vocal duties, so it might not exactly fit what you're looking for.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:42 AM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Patty Griffin yet. All of her albums are a must-listen.
posted by koinonia at 8:49 AM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Gillian Welch, Tracy Chapman, Nanci Griffith, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Freakwater
posted by tomjoadsghost at 8:49 AM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Lydia Loveless
Neko Case
Marissa Nadler
posted by Owlcat at 8:58 AM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Some of these have already been mentioned by other folks, but are worth repeating with Spotify links. And like some other suggestions, not necessarily all “sad Americana”... but all lady-fronted stuff that you might like nonetheless:

Adult Mom.

Aimee Mann.
(Bonus: side project with Ted Leo called The Both).

Alabama Shakes.

Ani DiFranco’s mid-late-nineties stuff, like the album Revelling/Reckoning, where her sound started to grow a little beyond “folk grrrl”.

Cat Power.

Courtney Barnett.

The Echo-Friendly (F/M duo).

Erin McKeown.

Esme Patterson.

First Aid Kit.

Gillian Welch.

Houndmouth (group with F/M leads).

Hurray for the Riff Raff.

Jessica Lea Mayfield.
(Bonus: side project with Seth Avett of the Avett Brothers covering Elliott Smith songs).

Lucius play a mix of styles, but songs like “Dusty Trails” might be up your alley. And I love their cover of the Kinks’ “Strangers”.

Lucy Dacus.

Margo Price.

Mountain Man.

Mount Moriah (group with F/M leads).

My Bubba.

Neko Case.
(Bonus: side project with KD Lang and Laura Viers called, appropriately, case/lang/viers).

Nellie Pearl (group with F/M leads).

Pearl and the Beard (F/F/M trio).

Shana Cleveland & The Holy Rollers.

Sharon Van Etten, particularly the album Tramp.

Shovels & Rope (F/M duo).


The Wailin’ Jennys.

The Wild Reeds.

Wye Oak (F/M duo).

And a couple of one-off albums that you might enjoy:
Alison Krauss + Robert Plant, Raising Sand.
Badlands: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska by various excellent artists — not on Spotify, so that’s a YouTube playlist link.

And a one-off performance that I can’t stop watching:
Sylvan Esso (half of which is Amelia Meath from the aforementioned Mountain Man,) plus Flock of Dimes (which is Jenn Wasner from the aforementioned Wye Oak) covering “Everything is Free”, written by the aforementioned Gillian Welch — another YouTube link.

If you find something you do enjoy that's on Spotify, check out their Related Artists link. That’s how I came across several of these in the first place!
posted by D.Billy at 9:12 AM on August 14, 2016 [10 favorites]

Most of this isn't Americana per se, but all of it has a folky quality to it.

Sharon Van Etten
Miya Folick
Emma Ruth Rundle

You might also try Cat Power, Feist and Wye Oak
posted by cnc at 9:16 AM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Anais Mitchell's 'Young Man in America' sounds like it would fit.
posted by sagc at 9:48 AM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

You might like Valley Queen!
posted by dinnerdance at 9:50 AM on August 14, 2016

Be Good Tanyas.
posted by release the hardwoods! at 10:26 AM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding Shovels & Rope and Patty Griffin. Their songwriting sensibilities remind me of Brian Fallon's, and I'd put them on a playlist with any of his projects. Maybe also Garrison Starr, Chris Pureka, Mirel Wagner, and Madison Violet.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 10:36 AM on August 14, 2016

Mary Gauthier
Caitlin Rose
Whiskey & Co
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:11 AM on August 14, 2016

Haley Bonar (can't link because I'm at work) is along those lines, and she just came out with a new album. I'd start there.
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:52 PM on August 14, 2016

Here's a bonus!

Dave Hause loves Patty Griffin and covered her song When It Don't Come Easy on his Demos 2009. Heartbreaking song that ends up on repeat for me. I can't find an easy link right now though.

And here's Dave and Brian Fallon covering Patty's Long Ride Home

I wouldn't be surprised if you found more of Dave covering her.
posted by littlewater at 12:52 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Came here to say Anais Mitchell (above), Haley Bonar (above), and Kathleen Edwards.
posted by The Minotaur at 1:10 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Maybe not sad, but thoughtful for sure, Brandi Carlile ?

Came to say Brandi Carlile. "Sad (/Melancholy) Americana" is a good chunk of her music. Recommend 100%. I think all her albums are on Spotify and there are some good playlists. Can't link right now but will try to add some examples later!
posted by curious nu at 1:23 PM on August 14, 2016

Whoops, forgot it's supposed to be sad. Here's some sufficiently sad/dark Kathleen Edwards: Old Time Sake (sad) and Oh Canada (dark).
posted by The Minotaur at 1:24 PM on August 14, 2016

I think all my favorites have already mentioned so I'll just reiterate that these artists are all worth your attention: Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, Lydia Loveles.
posted by maurice at 2:11 PM on August 14, 2016

Iris DeMent
posted by ch3ch2oh at 2:12 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Elizabeth Cook!
posted by spinifex23 at 2:23 PM on August 14, 2016

Please check out Lykke Li on youtube! I love both her fast and slow songs.
posted by shortyJBot at 3:00 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Shawn Colvin; for sad, especially the album Whole New You.
posted by bertran at 3:10 PM on August 14, 2016

Best answer: For me, Concrete Blonde is one of the only bands that scratches the same itch as the Gaslight Anthem. Check out bloodletting, the rest of the album is quite different from the first song.

From that same era you might like Shawn Colvin, Paula Cole, Cowboy Junkies etc. Maybe Natalie Merchant. Maybe Joan Osbornes more country stuff, she started out country.
posted by fshgrl at 3:27 PM on August 14, 2016

I think Joseph (yes, despite the name, they're a band of three sisters) fits the bill. Wind and Cloudline have a melancholy, wistful kind of sound.
posted by sevenofspades at 4:15 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Heartless Bastards
posted by Leontine at 5:21 PM on August 14, 2016

I was sure that all my favorites would have been mentioned already, but there are couple that haven't been yet, AFAIK:

Kris Delmhorst has a number of songs that you might like [spotify]. For down-tempo, some examples: "Juice & June" and "Mingalay" from Songs for a Hurricane, and "We'll Go No More A-Roving" and "Since You Went Away" from Strange Conversation.

If you're okay with more acoustic Americana music, I recommend Hem (whose lead singer is Sally Ellyson). [spotify]

Emmylou Harris has already been mentioned -- she has a vast catalog. My favorite album (and probably the most influential to me personally) hands-down is Wrecking Ball. She also recorded a great album with Mark Knopfler called All the Roadrunning.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 7:05 PM on August 14, 2016

Kristin Hersh. You don't have to trust me, trust your ears.
posted by evilDoug at 7:10 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

All of the above, plus Rosanne Cash. I saw her at the Library of Congress right when "The River and the Thread" was new, and she said she was performing some of the songs for the first time … and others for about the third. It was amazing.

Oh, and after seeing case/lang/veirs (mentioned above) I bought a couple of Laura Veirs' albums, and I really like them.
posted by fedward at 7:25 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hmm... perhaps Hem. Folkie/jazzy/indie, with a female vocalist, Sally Ellyson. My favorite album is Eveningland, my favorite song Hollow. Definitely on the saddish side, at times.
posted by lhauser at 9:13 PM on August 14, 2016

I like Rising Appalachia a lot, with the caveat that a lot of their songs aren't sad, but the sad ones tend to be my favorite. Calling Me Home.

The Be Good Tanyas might also work for you. Rain and Snow. Hello Love.

Did nobody say Jolie Holland yet? Her vocals are more jazzy, but she's still in that Americana/folk zone. Old Fashioned Morphine. Damn Shame.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 6:26 AM on August 15, 2016

Karen Dalton! Late Sixties folkie, voice like smoked whisky
posted by MinPin at 7:48 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Judee sill ( case/lang/veirs wrote a song about her)
posted by WeekendJen at 4:53 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Delines and The Mastersons are both female-fronted groups with melancholy Americana songwriting and hauntingly gorgeous vocals. Two of my current favorite albums.
posted by platinum at 6:54 PM on August 15, 2016

Also another vote for Kathleen Edwards, and a shout out for old Drive-by Truckers, back when Shonna Tucker was in the band.
posted by platinum at 7:06 PM on August 15, 2016

Angel Olsen

Margaret Glaspy
posted by wilywabbit at 9:41 PM on August 17, 2016

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