i am a sucker for great warm rich smooth female vocalists, especially on tube gear and speakers that image well. but i am almost always faced with a great voice/song but a sonically inferior recording (examples too numerous to list) or a great recording of a mediocre voice. rickie lee jones (pop pop) comes to mind- fab recording, but come on lets be honest about her voice. however, i will almost always pick great recordings and leave the bad recordings for the car.
so i am asking for what you use as a reference female vocal recording/track. right now i come back tp bonnie raitt "you cant make me love you" from luck of the draw. big, warm, strong voice. not a perfect recording. but hmmmm that voice.
my only requirement is it has to be on CD. and we all know of great vinyl that did not translate into great CDs. so help me out here, what should be my next music purchase
Joni Mitchell, Patricia Barber, Diana Krall and Norah Jones are the "evident suspects" here... Well overdone at each hi-end show... I go with Mme Butterfly or Lisa Gerrard/Dead Can Dance or my fav Cocteau Twins (Elizabeth Frazer) to nurture my deeply disturbed ego ;-( try Head Over Heels, if you won't get disturbed I will refund your purchase!... :-)
Old favorites of mine are Maryann Price and Naomi Ruth Eisenberg, the two singers of Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks in the 1970’s. They’re great on the studio-recorded Striking It Rich and the recorded-live-at-The Troubadour Where’s The Money? As a bonus, both are unusually good sounding recordings.
And then there are all the Iris Dement albums. I would love them no matter the sound quality, but fortunately they’re pretty good. I used her My Life album as a demo source at CES in the late 90’s.
Beg to differ with you Czarivey, I don't consider Patricia a boring audiophile artist. She has some quite formidable jazz arrangements that put her into the class of unique IMHO. She's pretty good, try her live in France album and enjoy, if this is possible :), I used to feel the same but she has really grown on me the more I listen.
Some suggestions from the folk genre (as you might expect)
Mary Chapin Carpenter -- maybe start with "Between Here and Gone" or "Stones in the Road"
Nanci Griffith -- "Other Voices, Other Rooms: her covers CD is a great mix, or try "Flyer" if you want a more pop mastering
Sandy Denny -- invest in the "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" 3CD box on Hannibal or the more recent 19CD (!) complete box set
Mandy Morton -- we're now getting more obscure, first came to fame with Spriguns but well worth looking for the "Sea of Storms/Valley of Light" combo CD
June Tabor -- a classic folk voice -- start with "Airs and Graces" then maybe jump forward to "Against the Streams" (I love "Apples and Potatoes")
And finally to bring you bang up to date invest in a copy of "The Elizabethan Session" and get into Bella Hardy and Nancy Kerr in some impeccably well recorded new songs inspired by the Elizabethan age
Thanks - lots of artists to explore. As I look over the suggestions, some people just gave artists. With multiple album possibilities, how about specific albums from some of these artists? (which disc should I buy first?) And as we all know, even on very good recordings, some tracks are better than others. Are their specific tracks that are just plain superior recordings? You know, the track you go to when you first put the disc in.
As an aside and going back to my original thoughts, I put rickie lee jones pop pop album - "dat dere" track on this morning. While my comment on her voice still stands, I had forgotten just how great the recording is: the instruments, percussion other voices, precise imaging, size of soundstage. Still wows me. Now I just need to find that recording quality with one of these new artists that people are suggesting.
Folk freak- I put my post up before I read yours. I have the older MCC - shooting straight.. and come on come on. With some of the tracks on the later being pretty good recordings. What is the recording quality on stones... and between... I do like Nanci Griffith - but have mostly listened to old stuff- late night grand hotel, poet in window, with storms being the best recording. What is the recording quality of the new NG. Which NG and MCC are the best recordings?
Melody Gardot - Worrisome Heart and Currency of Man Joni Michell - I like almost everything but the two getting the most current play are Blue and Hejira Vanessa Fernandez - Use Me Rumer - This Girl's in Love Shelby Lynne - The Look Of Love Dusty Springfield - Dusty in Memphis
I think you're obsessing about recording quality a bit too much -- the true measure of a system should be how well it presents the musical event irrespective of the recording (i.e. it finds all that can be found even in a mediocre recording)
Having said that to address your specific questions
"Stones in the Road" is an OK recording, nothing special -- personally I actually prefer the live versions of many of these tracks on "Party Doll and Other Favorites" -- this is an honest live recording
"Between Here and Gone" is an impeccable pop record, highly produced but very well done
Regarding Nanci -- I agree on Storms (you need to get the Alto Analog LP btw) -- of her more recent stuff I picked out "Other Voices" as it is a very intimate and real sounding recording, if again you prefer a pop production then chose "Flyer"
"Airs and Graces" is a true vocal master disc, but recognize that this is acapella solo british folk voicing, so may not be to your taste - I never owned a CD of this so cannot goide you to which to choose
"Against the Streams" is again very nice, realistic recording
"The Elizabethan Sessions" is a stellar recording throughout -- beware it has men singing on it as well!
Finally Sandy and Mandy -- the recordings are of their time (early 70s though 80s) -- personally things like "Fotheringay" are my all out reference and the 3CD Hannibal set is as nice a CD as you can hope to find, only bettered by paying through the nose for an Island pink label -- but this is all in the context of your liking Joe Boyd's production style
Looking at the responses and it amazes me how many I have never heard of and when I check them out then I wonder why. Really enjoying Cassandra Wilson a lot here lately, just love her haunting vocal and everything I have of hers is very well done across the board. Don't agree with Nora Jones, Patrica Barber and Diana Krall all are boring.
Rosanne Cash's "10 Song Demo" is not a demo and it is a collection of eleven beautifully written, performed, and recorded songs on CD. I regularly use it for auditioning new or changes to equipment and have listened to it as many as three times in a row because I enjoy it that much. Spare acoustic guitar and piano accompany Rosanne's clear and often haunting vocals. Very highly recommended.
+1 for Carrie Newcomer. She has a warm alto voice. The music is acoustic/folk, band not solo. It’s not challenging but it is good. I think "Before & After" is a good place to start sound and music-wise.
BDP24: I thought I was the only one who listened to Dan Hicks' "Striking it Rich" album. A true gem if you like those kind of tunes. The Hot Licks vocals make it one of my all time favorite albums. -John
I have long considered Joan Baez's medley of "I Dream of Jeannie With The Light Brown Hair" and "Danny Boy" to be a good measure of the worthiness of a pair of stereo speakers. The track is on the "Diamonds and Rust" CD.
Madeleine Peyroux, "Half the Perfect World" cd Lizz Wright, "Dreaming Wide Awake" cd For a single cut from "Lost On The River, The New Basement Tapes", Rhiannon Giddens singing "Lost On The River #20". Hauntingly beautiful to my ears!
Wow, some great suggestions. I am once again reminded that I’m amongst kindred spirits here on AudiogoN! The mention of Joe Boyd (who does really quality work, starting the great label Hannibal Records) has reminded me of an album produced by Boyd containing a female vocalist in reference quality sound---Shoot Out The Lights by Richard and Linda Thompson. Not only stunning sound, but great songs (chronicling the break-up of their marriage), Richard’s incredible guitar playing, and Linda’s (and Richard’s) fabulous singing. An absolute must-own album!
I took your advice and bought the Emmylou Harris Songbird box set. I'm listening to it now, and can tell I won't be disappointed. This really is MY kind of music. While it may not be for everyone, it just suits me. Amazing job of mixing! Thanks.