Entertainment // January 27, 2014

At Made Woman, we’re always on the lookout for artists that make us sit up and take notice. Great music is made only by those of equally great stature and initiative. As the calendar turns over another year, our eyes and ears are refreshed. We eagerly anticipate those who will define the musical landscape of 2014.  We’re betting these five ladies below will be making this year their own. These are the Top 5 Female Artists to look out for in 2014:

Artist: Yuna

Why she’s Made: Yuna is a Los Angeles-based artist with Malaysian roots bringing a sultry and emotive quality to today’s pop music. Her sound fits into the music annals alongside others like Sia and Corinne Bailey Rae. She can sometimes be as sweet as sunshine, and at others, pull at your heart with the sweet aching nature of her crystalline voice. Yuna began her career with the help of MySpace in 2006, catching the ear of US music labels. Undeterred by the lack of instant mainstream success, Yuna has continued to push forward in the music scene the last nine years, both releasing LPs and EPs and working with music mavens like Pharrell, along the way.  She spent the later half of 2013 finally making waves with the release of her latest Nocturnal album, so look for Yuna to take over the music scene in 2014.  

Artist: Birdy

Why she’s Made: You might not know her by name, but chances are you (and 54MM other people) have heard her cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love”. Birdy, also known as Jasmine van den Bogaerde, can make you feel bad about yourself without even really trying. At just 17 years old this Brit made a splash with her beautifully epic record of covers, and this year she is back to enchant with an entirely original album including a track from The Hunger Games soundtrack. She was recently featured on the star-turning Morning Becomes Eclectic program on Los Angeles’ taste-making KCRW radio station.

Like what you're reading? Join Made Woman Mag's mailing list for updates, special promotions and more. Click here!

Artist: Angel Haze

Why she’s Made:  Angel Haze is the benefactor of so many musical talents you’d be inclined to think she had multiple personalities. She has innate abilities as a hard-driving rapper and lyricist and is an equally pure vocalist. It is a duality which makes me, of course, think of another phenom: the talented Ms. Lauryn Hill. At 22, Detroit-native Haze looks no more than 15 because -- you guessed it -- she has the face of an angel. An embattled childhood, an independent mind and an unflinching desire for the world to hear her music are what fuel Angel Haze. She recently leaked her own studio debut Dirty Gold ahead of its release. You’ll be thanking her that she did.

Artist: Angel Olsen

Why she’s Made: Another “Angel” tops our list for 2014. Though she, too, often uses music to exorcise some of life’s most tormenting demons, this Angel finds her home in the singer-songwriter genre. There is no pretense about Chicago-based singer-songwriter Angel Olsen. Her style moves counter to the trends of today’s soundscape -- raw, stripped-down and beautifully underproduced. I had the pleasure of seeing her live last year, and Olsen’s performance was beautifully understated belying her grand voice. A voice that is both staggering and unique; and untrained in the best way possible. It sits somewhere comfortably between an operatic belt and the country call of a yodel. Witnessing her natural display, the range and fluidity of her swoons and croons, is spiritual. Her presence will be in no shortage this year as her sophomore LP Burn Your Fire For No Witness is out February 18th.

Artist: Elli Ingram

Why she’s Made: The second Brit on our list occupies the space between AlunaGeorge and Amy Winehouse. Her cadence is playful and her sound is jazzy ala Winehouse on her freshman effort Frank; but Ingram additionally introduces buoyant elements of early 90’s R&B. Last year after covering Kendrick Lamar’s “Poetic Justice” and releasing a take-notice EP, Sober, Ingram signed to Island Records (also home to the late, great Ms. Winehouse). In 2014 the sky's the limit for this import.

Published in Entertainment

December 9. 2011

Inevitably, sadness is bound to tag along when a posthumous album is released by an artist as beloved as Amy Winehouse. If the album triumphs over the artist’s previous projects, fans are only left wanting more. This is the lesser of two evils. The other occurs when a posthumous album pales in comparison to the artist’s best work, painfully reminding fans that the magic they once heard will never be duplicated or outdone. Unfortunately, the latter is the type of grief I felt listening to Amy Winehouse’s compilation album, Lioness: Hidden Treasures. While I’ll happily welcome any new material from the woman who caught my eye with Frank, and then kidnapped my heart with Back to Black, Lioness ultimately falls short of Winehouse’s earlier projects. The British singer’s voice is as soulful and haunting as ever, but it’s clear many of the tracks on Lioness wouldn’t have seen the light of day if Winehouse had not died four months ago at 27.

Take the track, “Our Day Will Come”, a simple promise to a lover, reminiscent of Winehouse’s jazz-inflected sound on her debut album, Frank. Initially recorded to be on Frank in 2007, the song didn’t make the final cut. If Back to Black is an A and Frank is a B+, it’s probably safe to say “Our Day Will Come” fails. That’s not to say the song is egregious. The jazz-reggae sound is delightful. But like other previously unreleased tracks on Lioness, such as  “Best Friends, Right?”,  it fails to display Winehouse’s vulnerability, lyrical astuteness, or honesty, like when she admitted to picking the wrong men as naturally as she sings on “What Is It about Men. ”Amy’s brash comments, like when she once asked Mr. Jones, “What kind of fuckery is this?” or the mocking tone in which she boasts, “feel like a lady and you my lady boy” is missing from Lioness.

It’s hard to believe the same producers who helped Winehouse create Back to Black put this album together, but they did. Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, along with Winehouse’s family, handpicked each track and explain why with beautiful detail in the liner-notes. This album isn’t unexceptional because Ronson and Remi picked the wrong songs. (Before her death, Winehouse only recorded two tracks for her planned follow up to Back to Black; neither is on Lioness). The album is unexceptional because Amy Winehouse wasn’t around to painstakingly execute her vision until it damn near reached perfection.       

And that’s the main problem with Lioness. The alternate versions of Amy’s most well-loved and damn near perfect songs like “Valerie” or “Wake Up Alone” are featured on the album but they don’t live up to the previously released versions. The only exception is “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” originally featured on the soundtrack to Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason in 2004. Ronson reworks the track by adding rousing horns, soulful background vocals, and slowing down the tempo even more than the 2004 version. It works wonderfully and is the highlight of the album. We hear the Amy I first fell for, the artist who left us too soon.

Because of alcohol, fate, or whatever you want to blame for her death, we’ll never know if Winehouse would have ever released undeniable treasures. Lioness: Hidden Treasures is good but not good enough.  Still, released earlier this week, the album already tops the UK charts. This is only a reminder of how remarkable Amy Winehouse is – even her throw away songs are better than everything you’re listening to on the radio.

Published in Entertainment