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Posted June 30, 2007 by Mike Mineo in Features
 
 

Blair. Her Last Name is Irrelevant.

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She simply goes by the name of Blair. Her last name and middle initials remain an absolute mystery to the casual onlookers but, for some reason, it hardly seems to matter. Blair can light up a room with her effervescent vocals; one of the many staggering qualities of this promising 23-year-old singer/songwriter based out of New Orleans. As far as the anonymity of her name goes, it is not a big deal. She wants the attention on her music, not her personal life. If it worked for Nico, it can certainly work for Blair. Oh, and if she were reading this for some odd reason, she would most likely be peeved that I already described her as a “singer/songwriter”. As her press release boldly states in argument against the tag: “it would be more accurate to describe Blair’s sound as the musical meeting of Dolly Parton and Radiohead.” Hmm. Well, even though I am unable see the cause for even a slight comparison to Radiohead, her likeness to the most bountiful blond in country music is certainly justified. However, unlike Ms. Parton, Blair does not rely solely on her Southern descent to gain a stylistic flair. She also does not depend on a pair of plastic flotation devices to attract a male audience. Her natural skill of songwriting does more than enough justice in that department.

With Blair’s soaring vocals being both authentic and emotionally absorbing, it could possibly cause one to unfairly overlook her lyrical prowess. As she displays on her debut EP, Pluto, Blair possesses a boatload of talent, leading her past the formulaic masses of atypical feminine folk songwriters. While Pluto only contains four songs, that is certainly not the fault of Blair’s creativity or work ethic. Just like any lovable DIY artist, the only reason that she was only able to record four songs was that she did not have enough money for extra studio time. “It would be a full-length if money had been no hindrance,” she said in a blog post. “But I only had enough to afford a certain amount of studio time.” While the lack of material is disappointing, Blair makes up for it in the sheer quality of each song. She certainly made the best use of her insufficient studio time through the selection of four very wholesome songs. From the socially challenging “Wolfboy” to the tender acoustics of “Blues Song”, Pluto is one of those small releases that strongly echoes the wise sentiment of quality over quantity. With a sophisticated lyrical intellect that expresses metaphors of social redemption pairing up with stellar instrumental accompaniments, the delivery is a striking success.

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Blair apparently selected the name for Pluto based on the ex-planet’s now shameful classification as a dwarf planet. A longtime resident of New Orleans, Blair witnessed the devastating results of Hurricane Katrina first-hand. Keeping in touch with her apparent love for metaphors, Blair saw the planet’s sudden scientific shift as a metaphor for “life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.” One moment all is well and, all of a sudden, life is changed by the unstoppable forces of nature. As Blair sings on the optimistic “Half Moon”, nature plays a powerful role in the lives of many, both in peer philosophy and sociological perspective. “No one dares to shout at the baby bird who flutters by,” Blair breezily sings over a fanciful assortment of keys and guitars. “In just one week he’ll make you cry, at the half moon.” Her artful intentions are only further clarified in the final sentence of the expressive song. “And the animals are pretty too, they can fuck you up like people do.”

Society is once again analyzed quite subtly in the opening “Wolfboy”. Known at this point as Blair’s trademark track around the good-willed blogs who have already posted about her, it is immediately recognizable why the track is so likable. Blair reaps vocal usage in the respectfully comparable vein of Jenny Lewis or Neko Case, using amiable approaches bordering on both country and folk. “Oh my god,” Blair sings hauntingly in the ardent chorus, as touching and emotionally bounded as the same exact words whispered by Sufjan Stevens in the exquisitely chilling “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.”. “Wolfboy” and “Mona Lisa” are both tracks that depict social isolation in its most effective form, with the latter being a humorous stab at the generally ambiguous nature of human emotion.

With a new EP on the way shortly, Blair’s fan base in beginning to pick up steam. The fact that several big names were thrilled to have her open for them is certainly a good sign. Cat Power, Calexico, and Bright Eyes are a few of those names who are also recognizable of Blair’s wholesome talent. Keep an eye out for this promising artist. When she finally manages to release a full-length album, I would not be surprised if it is received as one of the more respectable indie-folk releases of the year.

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Blair – Wolfboy

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Blair – Half Moon

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Blair – Mona Lisa

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Official Web Site

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Mike Mineo

 
I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound. I used to write for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].