Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Angst in a pretty wrapper

April 3, 2009

Singer/songwriter Meghan Tonjes has a great voice – it has a rich, smoky quality at times, but also has impressive range. Her voice is clearly the best part of her debut CD, Be in Want. Tonjes is also a very solid acoustic guitar player who introduces new elements with each song. However, I can’t help but feel bummed out when I listen to Be in Want.

It’s the lyrics! The words in a song rarely bother me – I’ve been known to say (exaggeratedly, of course) that I listen to music for the music, and read books for the words. But, on Be in Want, the sparse instrumentation (it’s usually just Tonjes on acoustic guitar, but there’s piano in a few songs) puts the lyrics in the spotlight. Tonjes’ clear and attention-grabbing singing voice also emphasizes the words – all of them. You can’t miss a single bitter jab. It feels like most of the songs on the album are very personal, and each is directed to a different person who made Tonjes angry or sad. (I could be way off here, but it’s just the vibe I get.) Because of this, Be in Want is a little exhausting to listen to.

I sincerely think that Meghan Tonjes is a talented musician, but I also really want her to cheer up.

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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