I'm pickier than the average listener when it comes to female voices and I'm the first to admit it. It's a combination of a few things - being a female myself (in case you hadn't realised) and having had a certain amount of vocal and musical training sometimes it feels like a case of too much knowledge being a bad thing. An actor friend of mine can't watch plays for pleasure, and bad singing causes me actual, physical pain. So no, I've never been a fan of TV talent shows. I also think that it's partly to do with the fact that women in the entertainment industry are not necessarily given record deals on the basis of talent. Listening to Rihanna miss each note by a quarter tone is evidence enough of that.
It was popular for a while for female singers to sing in breathy, weak, little girl voices and that kind of singing drives me absolutely bananas. BANANAS. Bonkers. The sort of angry where you start a sentence trying to describe how the singer makes you feel and it just sort of trails off because you're so annoyed you forget how words work. I first heard Beth Rowley when a copy of her debut album landed on my desk, back in my record company days. This was a few years ago now, back when Katie Melua was still kind of a thing, and it seemed like every label had a slightly jazzy chanteuse to spruik. Listening to Rowley sing for the first time, it was so nice to hear a woman sing like, well, a woman.
Her cover of Sunday Kind of Love isn't on that album, but it is on the soundtrack to "An Education." (Sidenote - great movie. Watch it. Carey Mulligan is a delight and Peter Sarsgard is very Peter Saaaaaarsgaaaaaardy. If you know what I mean.) Rowley herself appears in the film, singing the song in a Parisian jazz club that makes me nostalgic for a time I never actually lived in. But, how great would it be if that was the sort of place we went dancing on Saturday nights? You might be familiar with the versions of the song by Etta James or Ella Fitzgerald. Originally published in 1946, it's done the rounds - I for one, am going to be tracking down Reba McEntire's version as a matter of urgency. Reba! But for now, I leave you with Beth's version to enjoy - and I sincerely hope you do.