Songs For When You Will Bend, But Not Break, Under The Weight Of The World

After my first job at MTV working as a music programmer, I can't stop trying to matchmake people with music they might like. So, I wrote a book called Record Collecting for Girls and started interviewing musicians. The Music Concierge is a column where I share music I'm listening to that you might enjoy, with a little context. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or leave me a comment below and tell me what you're listening to this week.
Jesca Hoop "Pegasi"
Hoop's track gave my column this week its name. Lifted from her lyrics, with the spirit of her sparse and lovely guitar in mind, this track is about where I'm at this week. I've got about enough energy for a single instrument accompanied by a single voice and I'm trying to be tenacious. This song reminds me of one from the late 1950s/early 1960s, like something Joan Baez would have written after a protest when she was a bit rung out but still fresh from the experience. It's uplifting, and though her vocals are bell-like and feminine, the weight of her words is heavy.
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Charlotte Gainsbourg "Ring-A-Ring O' Roses"
Gainsbourg, the famous-in-her-own-right daughter of Serge, creates a Dadaist poem with this song. In French, she is simply listing the things that happen in life as we transition from teens to adults: first love, first sex, first marriage, first baby. But sprinkled in are bits of darkness, echoing the darkness in that old childhood song "Ring Around the Rosie," which we grew up singing (and, it's real title is "Ring-A-Ring O' Roses"). The repititiveness of it is soothing, as is not quite knowing what she says, if you don't speak French.
Paramore "Fake Happy"
Proving you can be uptempo without releasing a happy song, Paramore are here to flip the script. Hayley Williams' half-hearted dancing in the video paired with shooting it in NYC is a pile on a metaphor for looking below the surface, which actually makes it a pretty good song about depression.
Mavis Staples "We Go High"
Yes, it's from that Michelle Obama speech. Yes, it will make you feel better. Yes, you need this in your life. Staples has been working to create uplifting music since she was in the Staples Singers in the '70s. Safe to say she's an expert at it by now.
Margo Price "A Little Pain"
Keep the establishment, I'll take the country music that's playing left of the dial. Price, whose latest on Jack White's Third Man Records, is the change I want to see in the world of country music. She's got a Dolly Parton-inspired voice and the spirit of an outlaw. This is a great song for putting it all in perspective (and singing along to on your commute).
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