Nothing But The Girl(s): Hold Your Breath

For all you Nothing But The Girl(s) readers out there (all two of you…), here’s some details of releases by female singer-songwriters that I am most looking forward to this year.

Gemma Hayes

We’ll kick off with a female singer-songwriter who more than most of you will be familiar with. Tipperary-bred Gemma Hayes announced on her Facebook page back in January that she is busy working on her fourth studio album, which is scheduled for a May release. The gorgeous singer-songwriter, who has achieved huge recognition and acclaim Stateside, also revealed that she hoped to have a song from the forthcoming record available for fans to hear at some stage in March. The following video, recorded on Dublin’s 98FM’s “Totally Irish”, emerged on YouTube shortly after:

The forthcoming album will be Gemma’s first since her fantastic 2008 release The Hollow of Morning.

Lisa Hannigan

And now for another little helping of homegrown Irish. Sea Sew, Lisa Hannigan’s solo debut, was long-anticipated; even before she separated from Damien Rice musically people were pining for an album that was all her. Finally, in September 2008 the very talented singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist came into her own, releasing an album that would earn her both a Mercury and Choice Music Prize nomination. Gone are the days where Lisa stood a foot back from the microphone with her eyes shut tightly, hoping not to draw attention to herself.

Given that Sea Sew was such a huge success, both at home and more recently in the States, fans were naturally eager to get their hands on a second helping of lovely Lisa. The singer-songwriter has been hard at work in the studio for the last number of months making sure these fans get just what they’re looking for. Lisa has been updating her Facebook page regularly with videos of her progress:

You can check out more of these videos on Lisa’s official website here. As of yet there is no official release date for the forthcoming album, but we are reassured it is coming very soon. Exciting stuff!

Fiona Apple

In October, Billboard magazine revealed that singer-songwriter Fiona Apple will be releasing her new album in 2011. After five years of waiting, fans of Apple (and I ain’t talking about Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s first born) will be happy to learn that she is currently working on the follow-up to her highly acclaimed 2005 album Extraordinary Machine.

Fiona’s most recent musical contribution was a rendition of ‘Frosty The Snowman’ for The Hotel Café Presents…Winter Songs, a compilation of both original recordings as well as classic holiday tracks sung by a line-up of female singer-songwriters, which also featured Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, KT Tunstall and Colbie Caillat.

An exact release date and album title for the forthcoming record is still unknown, but according to fellow female singer-songwriter Michelle Branch, Fiona’s new material will be well worth the wait. Branch shared the following with the world of Twitter on September 12th of last year: “Hate to brag but I heard a couple of new Fiona Apple tracks today. Amazing.”

God damn it woman; hurry up!

Jesca Hoop

Those of you who managed to catch Jesca Hoop, a Californian singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Other Voices last year will already know that she is one interesting lady. I might as well start by mentioning her can-you-believe-it background; Hoop’s previous employment includes the role of nanny for Tom Waits’ and Kathryn Brennan’s three children. Pretty decent work experience for your CV if you can get it, eh? Waits quickly became Jesca’s musical mentor, with him taking an interest in her beautiful and enchanting songs. He has said of Jesca: “Her music is like going swimming in a lake at night.” With praise like that from a legend like Tom Waits, she is certainly one to check out.

It’s been a great couple of years for Jesca. Tipped by Time Out, Esquire and The Times, among others, as a fantastic talent, she has quickly gained recognition for her bewitching sound and quirky style. She has also gained some pretty impressive fans. Guy Garvey apparantly became so enchanted by her music that he invited her onto his radio show. This eventually led to an invite for her to join the Elbow US tour in April 2008, which led to a UK tour in October 2008, followed by another US tour in August of last year. Interestingly, he also lends his powerful vocals to Jesca’s song ‘Murder of Birds’.

Jesca grew up as part of a Mormon family of five children in California. Her childhood is said to have been very musical, with her and her siblings regularly singing traditional folk songs infused with their own elaborate harmonies. Drawing on her distinctive voice and natural gift for inventive song craft, Jesca stepped away from her strict upbringing to pursue her own path. This led her to Western States such as Wyoming and Arizona, where she worked as a homesteader and with troubled youths in a wilderness rehabilitation program. Eventually she made her way into the aforementioned nannying position.

Her contact with Tom Waits led to her initial exposure through the Southern California radio station KCRW and her musical journey continued from there. As well as sharing a stage with Elbow, Jesca has also toured with Mark Knopfler, Polyphonic Spree, Matt Pond PA, Greg Laswell and Andrew Bird. She has headlined tours of Ireland, the UK and France and also appeared at Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Fair last summer.

Jesca has already released two full-length albums and two EPs to date. Her music is seeping with dreamy, gently-picked chords and mystical harmonies, and has the tendency to transport the listener into a dark yet comfortable state of musical bliss.

More recently, Jesca unveiled the video for the single ‘City Bird’, which is due to appear on her forthcoming EP Snowglobe. ‘City Bird’ is an enchanting and almost eerie track that showcases Jesca’s unique and haunting vocals at their very best. The track, which tells a tale of a city of lonely souls, was apparently inspired by her memory of her time spent living in downtown Skid Row in the underbelly of L.A.: “The block I moved into was lined with these cardboard houses and people sleeping in doorways. Many of the buildings were turned into crack dens. You can only imagine. Poverty, famine, drug abuse, prostitution…What left the biggest impression on me was the look in their eyes. I witnessed many possessed…Skid Row is filled with ghosts…walking around… still in their bones”, the singer-songwriter has explained.

With a gentle hum of cello and a surprisingly uplifting picking style supporting Jesca’s husky vocals, the first track from Snowglobe EP is utterly powerful and is just a taster of what to expect from one of my absolute favourite female singer-songwriters.

Jesca will only release a limited pressing of the EP (just 1,000 copies). Snowglobe can be picked up at any of her UK tour live shows and from her official website from April 4th. Check this lady out!

Kyla La Grange

And finally, we get to Nothing But The Girl(s)‘ One to Watch for 2011, the fresh talent that is Kyla La Grange. In possession of a stunning belter of a voice and soaring, bewitching tunes, Watford-born Kyla is about to make one very big splash on the music scene.

Kyla grew up as the eldest child of hippy-ish parents, and has been writing songs since the age of five. It was only while studying philosophy at Cambridge that she began taking her talent seriously though. There a friend played her Cat Power and Elliot Smith for the first time and, in falling in love with their songs, she decided to start performing her own music. Since then she has been in the studio with Faithless’s Rollo Armstrong and is currently working on her debut album with producer Brett Shaw, due for release later this year. Kyla recently performed at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas.

Combining infectious pop with an indie sensibility, Kyla’s talent is ferocious and her vocals extraordinary. In its lower register her voice is smoky and intoxicatingly intimate, while it can also soar to epic heights with the most powerful intensity. However which way this lady sings, her sound is always brimming with emotion, allowing her to revel in post-teenage agnst and sadness. By her own admission: “My default mode is a bit sad, I think…” she says, but, “writing music has enabled me to cope with that.”

Whatever Kyla La Grange is doing, she’s doing it right. This is one debut I am ridiculously excited about. Keep your eye on this one folks; she’s going to be huge.

Find out more about Kyla by visiting her official website (where you can have an exclusive listen to her track ‘Vampire Smile’) here and her MySpace page here.

If any of you readers out there would like any particular female artist, female-fronted or all-girl band featured here, please give me a shout at and I will be happy to oblige.


About Elaine

Elaine first became obsessed with music at the tender age of three, when Santa brought her a copy of The Bangles’ Different Light and a Fisher-Price tape recorder. Throughout the years, her obsession grew and her tastes developed, leading her to begin her very own blog where she regularly rants about everything she loves about music. Rarities, B-Sides & Other Stuff features everything from interviews and gig reviews, to features on Elaine’s favourite musical acts, including Nirvana, Jeff Buckley, Ryan Adams, among hundreds of others. When Elaine's not ranting about music on her blog, she likes to go to gigs, run down the stock level in pubs all around Ireland and lie in the dark with her iPod on shuffle. Elaine currently lives in Limerick but dreams of someday relocating to a California-based Volkswagen camper van.
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