Interesting sounds can come from the most unexpected of places. Not long ago, I received an email from Jenn Grauer, a producer at HBO, inviting me to check out some music she had just released. To be honest, I didn’t expect a whole lot; I’ve known and encountered lots of people who made a living doing one thing and made music on the side—a banker, an office supervisor, teachers, several computer technicians (lots of computer technicians, now that I think about it). Hell, for a while I’d done it, too, in a long-running musical partnership with a dude who’s a deputy chief of staff for a member of the PA House of Representatives. We rocked, too, on our best nights; can’t say much for the rest of them. Suffice to say my expectations were not very high for Ms. Grauer.
My expectations need to be put in their place from time to time, and they were, once I heard Grauer’s music. Her 2011 record A Million Fires is a solid, often beautiful affair, showcasing her distinctive, soulful voice (think late-Eighties Natalie Merchant, with a touch of Norah Jones) in a variety of settings, most built around her plaintive piano. I highly recommend checking out the stream on her Web site, then firing up iTunes to buy it; it’s seriously affecting stuff, and Grauer is following it up with an EP by The Black Moon Project, a collaboration with musicians from the roots label Old Boy Records. The first single, “Do You Call This Love,” was released last week.