Amanda Grace and Katy Vernon proving that “female singer” isn’t a genre

I love to see a music show that features talented women. So I really enjoyed Amanda Grace’s CD release last weekend at the Amsterdam with Kay Vernon. Hearing them together is a reminder that “female singer” is not a genre.

Amanda has a gritty, almost guttural sound that feels raw and powerful. Strong American is a favorite song from the CD and the show. She starts with a breathy, aspirated, eerie lead up to a powerful full-force finish. The building and the range are compelling. Yet that wasn’t even the best showcase for her voice. Amanda played a song that she plays with her folk band Wildflower – it featured a long held note that would make you hold onto your hat!

Some of her music is quite dark. It’s part folk part (ballad) rocker but there’s an uplifting message – especially with Rayne Angel, written for a young woman she met on tour. She wanted to help Rayne see that even when you feel like you don’t have anything, you still have something to give.

Katy was a fun compliment to Amanda with her sad songs on a happy instrument – the ukulele. She had her full band (with one substitute); the ukulele, keyboard, horn and the rest give a nostalgic old time charm to the music. We heard some of my favorites: Lily and 5:00 Somewhere. We also got a sneak preview of Undertow, a new song from the upcoming release. It has the trademark upbeat demeanor but Katy’s voice takes on a sultry tone – a new dimension.

It feels too easy to compare Katy to fellow Londoner Lily Allen, but they both have a sardonic wit where the happy sounds and humor are like sugar that helps the medicine go down. Very clever.

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