Songs You May Have Missed #262


Nellie McKay: “The Big One” (2006)


Nellie McKay is a songwriter of many styles and moods. She’s clearly in a pissed off mood here.

McKay’s Geoff Emerick-produced 2004 double-disc debut, Get Away From Me (a play on Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me) was a breath of fresh air. Her Doris Day look and pose on the cover seemed at odds with the Parental Advisory sticker below her picture.

McKay is said to be the first woman to release a double album as her first release. Originally, her contract with Columbia called for 13 songs, but McKay aggressively lobbied her label for a double album, including bottles of wine, a PowerPoint slide show, and a mock photo of her threatening Emerick with a gun. (Allmusic).

get away

“The Big One” is from Pretty Little Head, her second album, released on her own label. It too was a double and included a 44-page color booklet. McKay bounces cheerfully between crooner jazz, reggae, rap, and songs that sound like full-fledged Broadway-style production numbers. Stylistic diversity, ambitious arrangements and intelligent lyrics are hallmarks of her work.

Truly one of the brightest lights in pop music, McKay seems to have a long road ahead of her as an artist. Given that she seems to enjoy careening her music career like a bumper car, it should be fun for everyone.

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