The artist and human being known as Blair has had a busy couple of years. She spent most of 2011 touring as a supporting act for Eric Elbogen and Say Hi, finding herself her own following from cities around the country. This all came after the release of her album Die Young at the beginning of 2010.
I reviewed Blair’s performance at the EARL in Atlanta earlier this year and you can read that here. What I didn’t expect after writing that review was the number of times I would return to Die Young in the months following her show and how ingrained this album would become on my consciousness.
Now, I’ve said before, there’s something about girls who play guitar (and I mean, actually PLAY guitar, not just hold guitar) that gets me every time. That was what initially attracted me to Blair’s performance, but after listening to this album over and over again over the course of four or five months, I’m becoming convinced that Blair has some magic to her that goes beyond her obvious guitar-playing ability.
Die Young is an appropriately titled album. Blair’s voice is sweet and generally wispy. Its not exactly that she sings prettily, but she sings like a young girl with a lot on her mind. In general, the music echoes her child-like singing. Each song is straight-forward and never overly complicated and while the tracks are somewhat sparse lyrically, the electric guitar adds a welcome grit to repeated lyrics.
A great example of this effect is on “Hello Halo” where Blair literally sings the words “kittens, rainbows” over and over before the somewhat desperately sung line “I don’t know what I’m saying”. Her voice is sweet, but pleading and the grungy guitar playing backs up the listener’s hunch that “kittens, rainbows” isn’t the full story of what this young girl is trying to say.
Overall, Die Young manages to have a unique sound all to its own. While it is fitting that she toured with Say Hi, she is no Elbogen rip-off. Neither does her girl with guitar act make her a new millennium Joan Jett. Blair is much too subtle a lyricists and performer for any kind of punk comparison. What she has achieved on Die Young is nothing to sneer at. She has crafted an album that the honors the best of the indie past while simultaneously bringing indie-girl-rock into the future.