ANY HONEST look at the music created over this past decade reveals a basic truth - most of the best music is being made by women.
This is a 10 year period which has seen the emergence of Savages, Dream Wife, PINS, Stella Donnelly, Julia Jacklinn, etc. There has always been great women in music, but their proliferation right now is notable, chiming with fourth wave Feminism, #MeToo, and women no longer tolerating the marginalisation of their voices.
The above names are resolutely in the rock and indie fields - popular music genres which have artistic respectability and are seen as worthy vehicles for artists with something to say. They are fields long dominated by men, where the standards and parameters have been decided on by men. That is no coincidence.
By contrast, the same respectability is not accorded to pop, which is seen as ephemeral, solely commercial in its orientation, and with little to say to the socio-political moment in which it emerges. It should give pause for thought that such attitudes are displayed towards a genre largely consumed by women (and gay men ).
These thoughts have been prompted by listening to Twisted by French pop singer Marina Kaye (real name Marina Dalmas ), which demonstrates that the confessional album is not the preserve of the acoustic-guitar wielding singer-songwriter, nor angst ridden young men in ‘important’ bands.
Twisted, and Kaye (in common with a notable number of contemporary women in pop ) conveys how modern pop is as worthy a vehicle for thoughtful, confessional, witty, and vulnerable words, and imaginative music, as rock or indie.
Strong emphasis is placed on Marina’s voice which has a depth and maturity greater than her 22 years, and which moves easily between the delicate and sensuous, and the strong and commanding. The production places it front and centre, over ambient atmospherics and minimalist electro/R’n’B beats (‘Twisted’, ‘Double Life’ ); semi-classical wordless vocal accompaniment and melodramatic keyboards (‘Scream’ ); and tasteful blues/soul guitar licks (‘Blind Heart’ ).
Throughout, the lyrics deal with complicated relationships and codependency, expectation, belonging, communication, love, anger, guilt, and the weight of emotional baggage. Final track ‘Questions’ asks many but provides no real answers, creating a rich ambiguity, and is all the better for it. A strong end to a very strong album.