Rhapsody Radar: Kendra Morris
Kendra Morris emerged from the indie soul scene, a culture that often shuns the trappings of easy fame and exorbitance. Indie soul musicians often personally fund recording sessions while working other jobs to get by. They take a long time to make albums because good soul songs are hard to write, dammit. Often ignored by both the pop media and Internet tastemakers, they cultivate a word-of-mouth support system that can sustain careers, but often breeds stylistic insularity.
The opposite seems to have happened with Morris. By not getting a chance to release a nationally distributed album until she was 30, she honed a wonderfully eccentric personality that's strongly influenced by her love of ornithology (she's decorated with bird tattoos, and this year's album is titled Mockingbird). More importantly, this individuality is reflected in her music. Her songs have unusual structures and metaphors, like when she sings "Did you ever ride a concrete wave/ Pavement cracks just an accident" to illustrate the temporal nature of romance, and then adds a second chorus, "Find you want me? No." Mockingbird finds her sifting through a variety of covers, and cannily knowing when to rearrange some (like stripping The Rolling Stones' "Miss You" of its louche disco) and when to apply her '60s soul filter to others (like Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun").
Morris shines a little crazier than your average indie soul performer. But for now, her plight is the same as her peers', as she continues to make great records that are ripe for the world's discovery.