Saturday, September 7, 2013

Fresh and Real Sound from Lorde (Revisited)

(Artist's copyrighted image.)
If you had the unfortunate opportunity to room with me in the late 1980s, you know I tend to listen to a lot of the same music over and over.  (Sorry, Dave Elkins and the rest of SPU's Camp Casey work crew on Whidbey Island.)  Yes, my musical tastes are a little hard to pin down--and I don't mind putting tracks on repeat for a few hours.  From Beethoven and Bach to U2 and Gaelic music, my tastes are a little eclectic.  (In fact, I'm listening to a Bizet opera as I write this little review.)

Maybe that's why I'm so excited about a new New Zealand singer named Lorde (Ella Yelich-O'Connor).  As Owen Stretch commented in his recent Huffington Postblog, she's the "anti-Miley."  Where Miley Cirus is all about "twerking" and pushing the envelope--without  pushing any kind of fresh, authentic sound or substance--this artist actually writes her own songs, and her insightful comments mark her as a deep thinker.  In an interview, she mentioned being captivated by the look and meaning of words.  Last month, for instance, she tweeted "perfecting that nursery rhyme melody thing that makes good pop songs repulsively hooky."  

It's a simple tweet from a young woman, but it betrays a deeper kind of thought and care about content than we are accustomed to seeing (or hearing) in the popular or independent music scene.  This woman is a writer, a poet who also happens to also be a great singer.  Her shy attitude and gentle smirk convey a self deprecating kind of humor and a depth to her thinking that's refreshing indeed.  It's been a long time.  As one of many from a broken home, there's also something in her honesty about friends and family that I find praiseworthy.

How fitting that her siren call would be sounding forth from New Zealand, the beautiful and rich place that helped bring Lord of the Rings to the big screen.  There is something otherworldly about this young woman's voice--like the elvish song from a dark Middle Earth wood.  I hope you will give her a chance.  A good starting point would be her "Royals."  I look forward to a great future for this new performer.

I should add that my profiling of this artist doesn't mean I'm endorsing any particular kind of lifestyle she may represent.  I gather she smokes, has a drinking problem (probably as a futile attempt to address her anger issues), and that she may hold conflicted feelings concerning the nature of God and "organized religion"--even though I would argue there is a Christian undercurrent or message present in some of her music.  So, I don't hold her up as any kind of a role model for young people--or anyone else.  In fact, I largely stopped following her on social media recently, because I found her tweets so greatly less inspiring or engaging than her music.  There was a negativity or sadness there that became grating after a time.

I just know that I enjoy most of her songs, and she seems like a young woman to whom we should lend our ears for a moment.  I trust this singer will only improve with age.  I just hope she learns to deal with bitterness and pain without the poisonous salve of alcohol.  It's sad when the brilliant ones burn out early with a flash; I hope Lorde stays around for very long time, and I wish her well.

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