Picks and Pans Review: Solo: Women Singer-Songwriters in Their Own Words
While Lilith Fair, the popular all-female summer rock tour, has made household voices out of Jewel, Sarah McLachlan and Sheryl Crow, fans may be less familiar with what they and other women artists say when they're not singing. Perhaps that is why the stories in this timely oral history radiate so much unanticipated warmth.
Rarely preachy or didactic, the book follows a rambling, conversational format (with candid photos by Emma Dodge Hanson) that works in its favor. The informal approach lends itself to such confessional nuggets as rail-thin folkie Suzanne Vega admitting she enjoyed her pregnancy. "In the past I would have been anxious about how big I was," she says, "but in this case I felt great." Or country's Rosanne Cash fondly reminiscing about her days as a member of the Anarchy Society at her Catholic high school, although, she concedes, "I guess we couldn't really have been anarchists if we formed a society." Even punk priestess Ani DiFranco seems kind of cuddly here. Save for a few sour notes (such as Jewel asking, "Does the fact the I ate some Ben & Jerry's last night make me bad?"), this chatty compendium is surprisingly in tune. (Delta, paper, $16.95)
Bottom Line: Women bards sound off—and strike the right chord