Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Have you ever found out about an author or a musician whose work coincides with your tastes perfectly, and yet you had never heard of them before?

I had something resembling that tonight, as I downloaded and listened to my favorite podcast, Coverville

The song list for the latest podcast looked pretty decent, with (yet another) "Ring of Fire" cover, as well as covers of songs by Tom Waits and Collective Soul. Then I noticed the name next to the Tom Waits cover - Emiliana Torrini.

Now, it's not completely true that I had not heard of Ms. Torrini before; but I only knew her as the singer who sang Gollum's Song for "The Two Towers" and did a collaboration with Thievery Corporation.

Her cover of Tom Waits's "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You" is exquisite. The song itself is a classic, from his Closing Time album that opened with one of my favorite songs ever, Ol' 55.

But Emiliana's voice is surprisingly soulful (she sang the rather ethereal Gollum's Song when Bjork, her fellow Icelander, had to pull out), and while she doesn't capture Tom Waits's gravelly indecisiveness, her interpretation still evokes the images of a smoky, half-empty bar. It also helps that the arrangement of the song is appropriately spartan; Emiliana is accompanied by only a piano and an acoustic guitar.

After some research, which wasn't simple, since the album, Merman (I immediately thought of Zoolander), is one that was only released in Iceland, I discovered that the rest of the album is just as good. Not only does she cover Tom Waits, but Velvet Underground's "Stephanie Says."

The rest of the album is ambitious, with obvious classical and jazz influences, lush orchestration, and quite a bit of experimentation. If I had to compare her album Merman with a popular artist's work, I would say that she reminds me a bit of Norah Jones, but there's more depth to her voice and her lyrics, and the album has a significant more range that Jones's work.

In re-reading that last sentence, perhaps she's not like Norah Jones at all, but it's the most familiar sound I can place with her. Ms. Torrini is often compared to Bjork, apparently, due to their shared nationality and quirky electronica-driven sounds, but the electronica is not present at all in "Merman"

On a sidenote, I have also been deriving way too much pleasure in my contribution to a certain message board discussion. During one of the baseball rain delays recently, a Deadspin commenter decided to start a "Tower of Song" game, a list of ten songs which other commenters would then alter by removing a song and replacing it with their own. The stipulation was that the song and the artist's name could not contain the letter "e."

My entry?

"Filipino Box Spring Hog" by Tom Waits (from his album Mule Variations - the album could contain the letter "e.") I've been trying to think of a better one ("Bombs Over Baghdad" by Outkast is my second best effort), but I can't. One of the other commenters had a song by Alison Krauss and Union Station, which I definitely respect, but I still like mine better.

If you can wow me with a better song, I'll tip my hat to you.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Want to send your lonely cousin in Indonesia a CD with some good tunes? After all...wasn't she the one who introduced you to music that wasn't your parents'?

She can even give you an APO address...domestic postage!

Wait...why am I referring to myself in the 3rd person?

7:23 AM  

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