I love unique voices. During the many years I’ve been listening to music, I ran into couple of them. Unusual. Mysterious. Jaques Brel, Tom Waits, Dylan and Mark Lanagen, Smog, Robyn Hitchcock – all of them are like that. On the feminine side, you’ve got Karen Dalton and her twin sister Billy Holiday, Marissa Nadler and Lydia Lunch, and Ruth Dolores Weiss.
Not all of them are technically great singers, but they deliver – they act the songs through their singing. It’s a difficult task, to sing something in such an honest and direct way, as if the singer and the song are one an cannot be separated. You may not love all those singers, but they all leave a distinct remark.
June Tabor is like that. She is considered for twenty years to be the most important female folk singer in the UK. Tabor won this status thanks to her songs selection in her albums, and the musicians she chose to work with. Aside to these two factors, there’s that Tabor voice – dark, gothic, that doesn’t sound like anyone else. A classic actor, someone who know something about life.
A Quiet Eye is a wonderful album of hers from the year of 2000. After years of interpretations to British folk songs, A Quiet Eye, is an attempt to go mainstream and connects original songs next to traditional with a jazzy feel. Two wonderful Richard Thompson songs (one classic Waltzing For Dreamers and one less known but nevertheless great – Pharaoh) and wonderful Big Band arrangements.
This album shows again that Tabor has an excellent musical taste, because the songs were carefully picked and her match with the musicians she picked to work with was smart. Hue Warren’s classic-jazz arrangements are perfect.
For those who wants to know Tabor, this is a good start due to the relatively lightness in the album (next to more trad. Folk albums like the fantastic An Echo Of Hooves), and it’s a good chance to hear another unique voice with a lot of drama. And drama, in June Tabor’s case, is a wonderful thing.
What about you? who’s your singer-actor?
June Tabor – First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – A rare moment in time.
June Tabor – A Place Called England
June Tabor – Pharaoh
[RIYL] Richard Thompson, Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention