What Do You Hear In These Sounds?
I somehow am lucky enough to randomly discover new artists before the make it big. For example, I was listening to John Mayer a full year before I first heard him played on the radio and turn a lot of people on to him before most knew who he was. However I end up finding out about these new artists (I don't really go looking for them), I like to spread the word about those who deserve more attention than they've gotten.
One relatively unknown artist who I love is Dar Williams. Dar may not be as unknown as some of the others. She has 7 albums out with an 8th coming this month, and I've even heard her music once or twice on the local "indie rock" radio station, but most people still don't know her name and even fewer are familiar with her music.
Dar plays a light folk music with the typical folk instruments (acoustic guitar, light drums, accordion, various woodwinds) and so if you're looking to dance you may want to look somewhere else but if you've had a long day and want to relax, grab one of Dar's CDs. The fullness of her voice stands out as unique amongst modern day popular singers and she has that ability to make it dance between chest voice and falsetto is a way that few others can get away with. The guitar work isn't extremely difficult but it rarely is in folk music and anything to distracting would take away from the most captivating part of Dar's work, the story.
Dar's real talent is her ability to tell stories in her music. She can and does take on different personas in most songs, weaving stories of therapy sessions ("What Do You Hear in These Sounds?'), a tense but fruitful family get-together ("Christians and Pagans"), and numerous others. While her official site (linked above) has few samples of her work a fan site located at www.darwilliams.net has a bit more material to offer. She's definitely worth checking out.