Sunday, June 05, 2005

Penn Gillette had Uma Thurman ...

Another small confession. Among my multiple personalities is an old-fashioned square. You know, a guy who would have been just as happy if rock and roll had never happened. Someone who likes show tunes and jazz-era pop.

A couple of months back, I caught a music video on Bravo. Or, rather, I was caught by the sound of an old Gershwin tune being sung by someone with a gorgeous voice, and wandered over by the television to catch the tune. "Someone to Watch Over Me" was a little slower than I'd have played it, but certainly engaging.

"Too engaging," I thought when I saw who was doing the singing. A young redhead, alone with a microphone in a large studio setting, looking far too seductive for her obvious youth and singing with a voice that did little to lessen the seduction. Trust me, to someone who looks like me, the line "he may not be the man some girls think of as handsome, but to my heart he carries the key", delivered in a particular way, can evoke some pretty deep feelings, and I was rather taken aback by the disjoint between what I was hearing and feeling and what I was seeing. As the video went on and the camera angles changed, I thought she looked a little like a kid I'd spotted on a sitcom once, but that would have been impossible -- the girl I was thinking of was barely into her teens.

As it turns out, it wasn't impossible. Renee Olstead is both the difficult teevee daughter and the gorgeous voice. If you haven't heard her, go to the site and give a listen. In what I think is an absolutely amazing touch, her entire album will play at a pretty decent quality in Flash.

I don't agree with the treatment in all of the songs. The duet in "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" was a mistake from my perspective, and the break in "Sentimental Journey" could have used a little more restraint, but there is no doubt that this kid has a substantial and subtle voice. It's a mightily refreshing change from the canned "music" one usually hears from child stars who feel entitled to a recording career. No partial nudity or sexually suggestive choreography is required to make the listener hear that the girl has more than a little talent.


Jess said...

She's great! And now I know... standards are *tough*. I've been taking voice lessons for about a month and a half. Belting out a song that's technically sound is one thing, singing softly enough to interpret a standard is something I never thought would be so difficult.

Stan Rogers said...

Difficult, yes, but if you've got the pipes AND David Foster to help you with the interpretation, "anyone" can do it.

I'm glad you gave her a listen, Jess -- and that I'm not just publicly demonstrating bad taste or a tin ear.

As for the voice lessons, I think you'll thank yourself for that one -- getting enough control to go past the notes and get to the song means learning to feel things you'd never really paid attention to (where the notes are coming from, what's tense, what's relaxed) and feedback from someone who actually knows what they're doing. Once you have the feel, then you can really get expressive and subtle without having to think about how you're doing it.

Can your record deal be far away?

Jess said...

Yep, I did give it a listen.. and like you, was equally amazed by the speed of the embedded "player" on the site.

Yeah, it's only been a little over a month, and I'm amazed at how much I've learned already. Tones, breathing, correctly forming words, etc. The tones is the most amazing part, easily. "Where the notes are coming from"... exactly. Once a note gets high enough, time to switch to a more "head" voice - lightening up. I always incorrectly assumed it was wrong to do that. I never dreamed I'd get the range I have by using it.

Too much fun!

Stan Rogers said...

Yeah, bel canto got me from an octave to an octave and a fifth. (I had a great range as a boy, from contralto to sopranino, then one day a croaking noise happened. The next day, I was a bass with no range at all.) (For the smartasses in the crowd, that's the homophone for "base", not some kind of sport fish. The fish would have sounded better.)

I really envy people who have structure to support tonality. I love to sing, and I have a pleasant enough voice, but it's not the kind of instrument that'll wow people. Good enough for kitchen parties, campfires and that obligatory single verse that someone in the band has to sing before the solos jam the melody into a distant memory.

Reports from the 'sfear tell me that you have the basic tools (putting it mildly). If people stood up and took notice before, I can't wait to hear you when you're in complete control. I s'pose that'd be easier done if we ever actually meet, though :o)

Jess said...

Well, I'll keep you updated as to how it's going. LOL... am I going to have to plan another Blogger meetup before LS next year? Don't tempt me! Rhode Island's very nice this time of year! :-)
Although, everyone's telling me to go to Montreal for a vacation... it just came up again last week, actually. Seems to be a favorite vacation spot for all my friends. One of them even said that if she'd gone on this vacation right out of college, she liked it so much she'd probably be living there right now.

Scott Good said...

Great tip! Just the Summertime song on the front page of her site was enough for me to fire up iTunes and add it to the iPod.