Band of the day! In one of my saved World Cafe episodes, the in-studio guest was this guy I had never heard of before, Joe Firstman. He’s got streamable (not downloadable) versions of his songs on his music page. I can’t buy his album, even though I’d like to, because it is on an RIAA label, but I can listen to these. His voice has that plaintive quality that reminds me a little of Adam Duritz of Counting Crows, but what really knocked me out was his lyrics. They cut deep, and are simultaneously funny and poignant. I really was impressed, and frankly expected someone older. From his picture on the webage he looks about 22, but he seemed like a craggy older guy on the radio. His songs reflect a more road-worn persona than his youth would lead you to believe.
Another good thing about him was the expressiveness of his delivery. One of the offshoots of the “diva-ization” of modern radio hits is that they are very unemotional. When the singer is doing that Whitney Houston/Beyonce/American Idol up-and-down-the-scale crap, that subtracts all emotion and indivduality from the song. I like singers like Greg Brown or Greg Trooper or Lyle Lovett or Susan Fitzpatrick of Gentle Readers, people who can fill the songs with emotions to either support or subvert the lyrics, who make every song a unique creation rather than yet one more framework for vocal pyrotechnics. I’d lump Firstman in with this group, I could feel every ache and smile as I listened to him. That’s what I want out of my music.