Yesterday we discussed the freak of nature that is the voice of Sarah McLachlan. We reach further back into my "Angry Lesbian" period to pull out another one of those voices: Tracey Thorn of Everything But The Girl.
I remember liking "Miss You," which became their first hit song in the U.S. That was a pretty big departure for me because I had a dislike of pop music at the time and was suspicious of electronica and keyboards. This was not the kind of song I was prone to liking, but there was something mesmerizing about Thorn's voice.
Fast forward a couple years and 1,300 miles. I moved to Colorado and was working at one of the music stores in the mall. My boss, Ted, had taken quite a liking to Everything But The Girl's Walking Wounded CD. By this point, my sonic horizons had broadened… slightly. I was listening to Garbage and Luscious Jackson, so female singers fronting bands with electronic sounds weren't quite so off-putting. Once again, it was Thorn's voice that was the clincher. I have a lot of favorite songs on this record, but we'll talk about the title track today.
Thorn's voice is the voice of divine disappointment. Her voice occupies a place beyond us. It's not angelic like Sarah McLachlan's, nor is it the voice of the damned. Thorn makes heartbreak, sadness, obsession, and insecurity romantic and ethereal. Here where we mortals dwell, those things all pretty much suck. This is no Mary Poppins trick with a spoonful of sugar for the medicine. This isn't Monty Python looking on the bright side of life. This isn't "come on, get happy." Her voice is imbued with all the emotion that comes with the perils of the heart. Where we, the littles, sound whiny, petty, and small when we pour out our stupid little hearts, Thorn's voice imbues her tales with dignity and beauty.
Some day I'll slip down the cosmic bunnyhole into my tortured past and navel gaze for awhile, telling the stories of the many ways these songs ministered to me during my emo times. For now, I'm going to immerse myself in the sounds of one of my favorite voices…