Megan Washinton, who goes by the stage name Washington, is an Australian singer-songwriter. I don't know what to say about her, really; she isn't terribly well-known and I'm having a hard time finding information about her, so this won't be terribly informative. This will, however, be full of nothing but praise and adulation, so don't read on if you're not interested in reading a perfume-scented love letter of a review. Also, this node is quite overdue, what with her EP having been out for over a year now.
She lived in Papua New Guinea until around the age of eleven, at which point her family moved to Brisbane. She says, "When I was really small I wanted to be Judy Garland... I used to imagine I was the illegitimate child of Debbie Reynolds and Fred Astaire." She lists her influences as Rufus Wainwright, Billie Holiday, The Decemberists, The Magnetic Fields, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, The macabre, Captain Ahab, Radiohead, Gillian Welch, Tim Burton, Coco Rosie, Nick Drake, Jon Brion, Elana Stone, Martha Wainwright, The McGarrigle Sisters, Pat Matheny, Audrey Hepburn, Ben Folds, Leonard Bernstein, Mahalia Jackson, Van Dyke Parks, Antony and the Johnsons, Bach, Sufjan Stevens, Danny Elfman, Edgar Allen Poe, Paul Simon and Neil Young. She now lives in Melbourne.
So I don't actually know much about her. I do know, however, that she is very pale, wears glasses that look like safety goggles and has a voice that makes me a bit weak. She writes sweet, lyrical songs that are soft around the edges and couldn't be performed by anyone other than the writer without them seeming disingenuous or corny. They are full of melodic surprises, little twists and turns that aren't predictable but aren't jarring either. She makes a lot of subtle references to Americana in her lyrics, or maybe that's just me projecting. As far as I know she currently has only released an EP, called Clementine; her next, called How to Tame Lions, is to be released on September 11th 2009. She was also featured in The Bamboos' song King of the Rodeo.
To my knowledge this was her first single, and it is the most radio-friendly of the five songs here. It sounds a little like The winner Is by DeVotchKa, the opening music from Little Miss Sunshine. They're not really that similar, but the two songs always remind me of each other. It is the least lyrical of all her songs, and it really sounds like an old folk tune that's been given an electric revival. It gives the wonderful feeling of starting from a standstill and then being pulled along and gliding at high speed through somewhere beautiful. The music video is animated in a hand-drawn fashion, and really fits with the mood of the music.
Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling Clementine!
Turn the water, turn the water,
Turn the water into a little bit more time.
2. One Man Band
This song sounds a little like country music, but with no slide guitars or southern accents. The rhythm beats like a horse's hooves, which could well be completely intentional. This kind of element becomes something of a common point throughout her songs, because they all allude to a kind of romantic, adventurous imagery. This song creates (for me) a strong image of America, or at least my own idea of America; the little whistling in the background, the quick-fingered guitar and the brushes on the snare drum, I'm sure it means something.
You're a one-man guy,
A one-man band,
A one-man show on the ra-di-o-whoa-o-o-o
3. 80 Miles
Here is just a piano and her voice, with a guitar just barely perceptible for a moment. The song doesn't really have a structure, it's two short verses with minimalistic accompaniment, and it feels like it wasn't written at all but just poured onto the bars. Though it lacks any real rhythm or set tempo, the timing plays an important part, careful pauses and little runs. It has what it needs, and no more, and because of this is seems that much more genuine.
Why did you say that to me,
80 miles out on the sea?
And I am built with parts of you,
And you are built with parts of me.
4. Fred Astaire
This song seems to be building up to something, some event that we don't see or hear. It is following the logical progression, slowly nearing a climax all the time, and then it ends. I didn't know who Fred Astaire was, to be honest, but knowing that he was an actor and dancer makes sense of this song. I think that this might be a song about her waiting backstage for her idol, or the anticipation of going out before an audience with him. The distant electric guitar in the middle is sublime, just because it drifts in and fits right in with everything below it, and then drifts away. It's these little touches that make these songs great, or any song, if you ask me.
I am in this way too deep,
Steady with your hands, steady on your feet.
5. Fighting the Good Fight
Again, just the piano and voice. Much like 80 Miles, it's all about the timing and the unexpected chord changes. I don't know what to say about this song, except that it's tinged with genuine melancholy and its progression seems like it was being shaped to fit a specific event or idea, like a song in a film score.
We're all here tonight
For a similar reason,
Fighting the good fight.
She also has some other songs on her MySpace page and YouTube channel that I haven't listed here, because I've written too much already. I know that this is a lot to write about a musician who hasn't actually recorded a full-length album yet, but I think she's right up E2's alley and very talented. I doubt that she'll ever be "big", she'll never top the charts, but I hope that she'll keep making such lovely music for a good long while.
I'll just finish here with a quote from her blog: "I just souped some serious chicken. Gave that chicken a bath. In soup."
For completely non-sexist reasons, she is one of only two women in my music collection. I don't know why I don't have more music by female musicians, but it's definitely not sexism. Not.