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Women singer-songwriters lead the newcomers into 2018

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Sophie Allison's Soccer Mommy project has become a full band on her Clean debut. - SHERVIN LAINEZ
  • Shervin Lainez
  • Sophie Allison's Soccer Mommy project has become a full band on her Clean debut.
Early on, 2018 is promising to be dominated by newcomers, and women singer-songwriters are leading the way. Simultaneous releases from Lucy Dacus, Soccer Mommy and Haley Heynderickx share strong guitar undercurrents and husky alto vocal deliveries with hints of Sharon VanEtten, though each singer offers a unique wrinkle. Richmond, Virginia’s Lucy Dacus already raised high expectations with her 2016 debut album, and Historian (Matador) exceeds the promise. Her razor-sharp lyricism on tracks like “Night Shift” warns of “tasting someone else’s spit,” and the full band with strings and brass instruments serve up chunky riffs. Meanwhile, Nashville’s Sophie Allison, only 20 years old, has converted her solo Soccer Mommy project into a full band on her debut Clean (Fat Possum). Her simple songs of obsessive love require little backing, but guitarist Julian Powell can add angular riffs reminiscent of Television. Of the three, it’s Portland, Oregon’s Haley Heynderickx who opts for the most stripped-down sound. I Need to Start a Garden (Mama Bird) centers on unadorned voice and Leo Kottke-like guitar that haunts tracks like “No Face” and “Oom Sha La La.” Meanwhile, the more seasoned Heather Maloney, a Massachusetts artist who frequently comes through Colorado, has released a new EP Just Enough Sun (Signature Sounds) featuring five surreal songs of family relationships and a cover of Dylan’s “Hard Rain,” one sign that unusual women’s voices may dominate the rest of the year.

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