I have a lot more to say about the tone of DeAnna's voice -- her unusual phrasing, her well-placed growl, the difference between her head voice and her full voice, and her purring vibrato. But I will savor eventually getting to discussing those rich features in her singing style, much like I savor anticipating a sushi buffet.
So in the meantime ...
This part of the series is a slight detour discussing a trend that concert-going aficionados have noticed recently. Its really about the annoyance of increasing chatter and crowd noise in live music settings.
The opinion is that concert-goers are becoming more rude about people around them and tend to talk out loud more. Bands and singers nowadays are making much of their income from concerts and so it may be that people are just noticing this more, but the evidence is still there. And its not the usual exuberance of fans, something completely different...
I had a recent experience that I will relate. Back in 2013, I saw the indie folk band Daughter at Montreux and thought they were really cool.
Daughter's lead singer Elena Tonra has a great voice and writes some seriously dark lyrics (doubt that DeAnna would cover any of Daughter's songs though, a little too dark :) so I thought I would catch up with them again at First Avenue this month. It was sold out and it took about 20 minutes to get through the ticket line, so maybe that was part of the reason why the crowd was so rude, too restless perhaps ?
I wasn't going to tape the concert, but having to listen to the incessant crowd chatter I had to record a short piece for posterity and proof to friends:
Trust me, it was even worse than this in some spots.
A radio DJ and musician Michael Shelley describes a similar experience he had at a Cactus Blossoms concert in New Jersey. This sounds just as bad:
Its not that chatter is always annoying. If it's part of the fan response or it fits in naturally or incidentally, say at an outdoor festival with lots of kids are running around, I have no problem with it. Listen to this recording of DeAnna singing Anymore at an outdoor festival last summer -- its perfectly charming IMO, the chatter low enough in the background that it almost becomes part of the accompaniment.
And then this video of Maria McKee covering the classic Wichita Lineman, where I believe the coffeehouse chatter was intentionally added to convey the isolation of the song's meaning.
That is such a cool vibe ... and it got me thinking that DeAnna Johnson is kind of a heir apparent to Maria McKee in being able to tackle country and rock and soul and anything in between and all around.
It's all about the tone. The chatter is just an annoyance :)