Meg Washington is a real gem. She sings pop songs that have serious resonance, which I find interesting because she’s actually a trained jazz musician. It helps that she’s devilishly good with words and particularly smart with melody, but it’s very difficult to come from a background of doing things in a complicated way and then reverting back to the simple. Washington preceded the release of her debut with three stellar EPs, of which I only caught the third properly, which all showcased a young woman with a lot to say and absolutely no inhibitions about saying it, either. Hearing Washington sing is quite an experience; she’s got power and passion in equal amounts but she’s also about ten times more switched on than the average musician. She related a funny story to me about doing an interview with some vague journalist who hadn’t even heard any of her music, where she couldn’t be bothered pretending anymore and just hung up. I like that kind of attitude, I like the sass and I like that Washington told me her two favourite current songs on the record even though they probably wouldn’t end up as singles and that they happen to be the ones I like the most.
‘Spanish Temper’ is pretty in a really dark and insidious way. It opens with the refrain ‘When will you kill me?’ (always a great conversation starter) before transforming into a sashaying tango of a track that still manages to retain the essence of what Washington’s all about. There are some really fantastic crescendos of sound and emotion leading into the chorus, signalling an artist who maps out her songs as well as she does her lyrics. Using violence as a signal of attraction is not a new concept, but for some reason when Washington does it, it’s highly believable and visceral. It actually recalls another artist I saw live this week, Florence Welch, who similarly writes songs you can sing along to despite the fact that almost all of them deal with death or brutality. Washington’s speciality is the brutality of passion, indeed, that’s probably what the title of this song references. In case you didn’t pick that up, the second half of the chorus, “You smash my jaw/Break my nose/Knock me out/Suck me in…” should give you a good indication. Washington’s voice is a particularly unique instrument; she sounds far older than she is, but in a really good way, and her songs on I Believe You Liar (from which this track is taken) could be on the third or fourth album of any other artist. Accomplishment is a wonderful thing, especially when it’s from someone this acerbic and this young.
Washington – ‘Spanish Temper’
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