[a.k.a. #3 of However Many I Care to List, in No Particular Order: Albums That I Have Listened To Both Intermittently And Incessantly, That I Imagine I Will Continue To Listen To Periodically For The Remainder Of My Life, Which I Consider To Be The Seminal Works Of (Or Most Accessible Entry Points To) Musical Artists Whom I Believe Have Been Woefully Underrated And Criminally Underrepresented In The Modern Music Canon At Large, And Which Also At Some Point While Playing I Have Very Likely Been Asked To Turn Down or Turn Off]
By now, if you’ve been following along, you are likely noticing a pattern amongst my album picks. Yes, I’ll admit it: I tend to prefer female vocalists. I greatly enjoy warbling, ululating, cooing, and other Björk-ish forms of vocalising (though Björk herself is not on this list because she’s already well known enough to be used as an adjective in this sentence), seemingly far more than just about everyone else I’ve ever known (though I have two friends I know are at least on the same page here).
Still, Heather Duby’s first album is relatively atypical for a favorite of mine, just as it is for a 1999 Sub Pop Records release from a Seattle-hailing artist: downtempo, electro-infused pop balladry that initially seems in the mold of Sarah McLachlan or Everything But The Girl, but over the course of 10 tracks morphs into a somewhat stranger beast. Heather excels in creating the kind of spaces in her songs that seem to be outside of any particular time or place, pocket universes that exist only for the length of the track.
“For Jeffery” is the first real left turn, angelic harmonies floating and looping over a driving, tribal drum pattern. Then the off-kilter waltz/anti-lullaby “A Healthy Fear of Monsters,” followed by the slow burn of “September,” which wouldn’t be out of place performed on the stage of the Twin Peaks Roadhouse. After that, the electronic undercurrents grow beyond background flourishes to envelop the remaining songs in compelling tangles of drums, bass & sampled vocals, prefiguring works to come by Glasser and Zola Jesus.
Heather would go on to record an EP in collaboration with improvisational electronic band Elemental, and release two more solo albums in the 2000’s, but she hasn’t had an easy run of it, involved in a car accident in 2011 that led to multiple surgeries on both her hands, so why not send her a few thousand streams for Xmas…