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Blazing The Trail For New, Young British Female Vocalists

              Adele                                       Kate Nash                                                     Duffy

In North America, the radio market is so balkanized that listeners are forced to listen — if they listen at all — to "narrow cast" radio stations, ranging from mainstream top 40 (Crave), rhythmic top 40 (The Beat) and classic rock (CFMI), to adult album alternative — generally referred to as Triple A — (the format of the three new Vancouver radio stations the CRTC recently awarded licenses to), modern rock (CFOX), country (JR FM), easy listening oldies and contemporary (QM and Clear FM), and mainstream rock (JACK FM), the latter a combination of 'heritage' and relatively modern 'rock'.

Within these various strict radio formats, there's not much room for eclecticism. Either a song fits the format or it doesn't get played. Not so in England. Radio in Great Britain plays whatever is best, ranging from pop to blues, and jazz through hip-hop, from Busta Rhymes to Coldplay, from Ironik to Martha Wainwright, Goldfrapp, Elbow, Kid Rock and The Verve.

Ain't no oversimplified compartmentalizing going on in British radio.

This summer young female British blues singer-songwriters are all the rage, including: Adele, Kate Nash, Duffy, Amy MacDonald, and Laura Marling. The relatively recent emergence, and popularity, of Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen and KT Tunstall has created an opening for a new generation of British female vocalists, reflecting a new kind of "girl power" in Britain. The new young artists have gained recognition through their own MySpace sites, posting a whack of thrilling homemade music videos to YouTube, as well.

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Of this new crop, Adele is VanRamblings' favourite. Dubbed the "next Amy Winehouse" in late 2007, Adele has the most mature and expressive voice, and the greatest vocal range, of this new group of British female singers. Confessional, powerful, inspirational and just a bit melancholy, VanRamblings first caught Adele on late night David Letterman, and we were absolutely blown away.

Here's Adele with Hometown Glory, a tribute to her home town, London, recorded months before she was signed to a label, and the début of 19. And here's the official video of Chasing Pavements, the song she knocked out of the park on Letterman, gaining a whack of new fans in the process.

You may want to check out the remaining songs on 19: the exceedingly beautiful Daydreamer; the brutally honest, rocking Cold Shoulder; and, the lullaby-like First Love. We'll leave you with Adele's Make You Feel My Love.

After the jump, allow VanRamblings to introduce you to Kate Nash, and ...

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As promised, an introduction to Kate Nash, who runs a very close second to Adele in our musical heart, although Kate Nash's presentation tends to the more idiosyncratic rather than classical feel of Adele. Which is fitting, indeed, given that Ms. Nash is something of an acolyte of Lily Allen. Well, it would be more true to say that Lily Allen has championed Kate Nash from the outset — when she ran across Nash on her MySpace site — as she wrote at length and rapturously about Ms. Nash on her own popular, well-read blog.

But Kate Nash stands on her own when it comes to her music. It's easy to see why Lily Allen continues to feel as strongly as she does about Kate Nash's impressive talent, and her attendant vocal and songwriting ability.

With a musical palate ranging from trip hop to folk, Kate Nash's catchy, upbeat songs are redolent with warmth, wit and a becoming vulnerability, not to mention a plucky, in your face, tartness. Have a look and a listen to Foundations, from her début CD, Made of Bricks, now garnering attention.

Equally quirky: Mouthwash. Then there's the feminist, 'done me wrong' plaint Dickhead. As a change up, and on the opposite side of the coin, there's The Nicest Thing. Mariella's one of our favourite songs on the CD.

As we check out her bum, we'll leave you with Ms. Nash's, Merry Happy.

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And, finally, in this lengthy post, Duffy, another gamine, just now in her early 20s. Ostensibly the most successful of the British threesome, with the hit album Rockferry, the best-selling album and single in the UK this year. Rockferry débuted at number one and stayed there for four weeks.

Sadly, VanRamblings is not as swept away with Aimee Anne Duffy as the rest of the world. Hell, it's not that we don't love us some neo-soul Rockferry. Nope. Rather, it's just that, as in the case of Duffy's hit single, Mercy, we think that Amy Winehouse got there first, and better. At least, Duffy isn't drinking and drugging herself to excess, à la Winehouse.

Still, there's no denying the transcendent, melancholy yet hopeful beauty of Warwick Avenue, nor the rare, devotional beauty of Hanging On Too Long.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at July 8, 2008 12:23 AM in Music


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