A man who possessed one of the most glorious, ethereal and celebrated singing voices to have ever been committed to record, Jeff Buckley once said “your voice is your essence”. People can’t put in finger on it, but perhaps his statement goes some distance to explain to us why a singer can be so magnetising and so vital. Singers have been admired and idolised across generations for their talents and, most importantly, their ability to humanise and give voice to that which cannot be expressed through simple speech. Here are 20 Aussie singers who fill us with this transcendent lovin’ with each and every listen.
Singing is what breathes a true element of humanity to music that we love and makes it our own, these 20 Aussie singers do it better than anyone.
Currently making waves in London and putting Aussie neo-soul on the map, Jordan Rakei has enough warm cream in his vocal chords to coat even the driest scone. With skills on keyboard and production to boot, it’s a wonder how Rakei had the time to hone such a timeless tone and effortless control. Smooth as a baby’s bottom yet as naughty as a midnight fry up, this is one vocalist you need to allow into your ear holes and into your life.
Baden Donegal – Ocean Alley
Everyone’s favourite roots/reggae scoundrels Ocean Alley have been making huge waves recently having sold out shows in Australia and across the ditch in New Zealand. This seemingly unending fountain of success sprays far and wide thanks, in no small part, to the band’s frontman Baden and his thigh wetting vocals. The sound of Donegal’s voice can melt hearts one minute and melt faces the next with a glorious balance of silky smoothness and raunchy howls. Don’t miss the chance to have Baden and the boys fill your earholes with their candy coated noise some time very soon.
No surprises here, Matt Corby is arguably one of the best singers on the planet today. Over the years, Corby has added more and more notches to his musical belt from soul warming folk ballads to gut busting rock jams. With the release of his latest record, Matty shows off a subtlety possessed only by a select few in the highest order of larynx wranglers. Corby can brood like an angel, breathe whispered warmth into your cold, cold heart or roar like a brazen lion all in the name of musical expression. A god among men.
Nai Palm – Hiatus Kaiyote
You may know Nai from last week’s appearance in our 20 Aussie guitarists list; what diamond encrusted angel bestowed this woman with such ultimate sillz, we don’t need to know, just enjoy. Nai Palm not only bears fingers carved by glittering forest sprites, she also sends shimmering light into the heavens through the sound of her voice, breathing life and humanity into Hiatus Kaiyote and their, otherwise, otherworldly jams. No doubt people will continue to travel from far and wide to hear this future-soul prophet sing her poetic gospel.
Upon listening to Montaigne’s fearlessly unique creations, one can see her following in the chasmic footsteps belonging to the towering goddesses of experimental pop like Bjork and Camille. A Triple J darling for the last year and it’s not difficult to see why. Montaigne’s illustrious voices billows a silver haze around the listener’s psyche and welcomes them to a new age of expression, doing away with bland Whitney Houston impressionists and building on a strong foundation of equally strong musical minds.
Rock n’ roll lord, activist and all round Aussie legend Dan Sultan could possess some of the meanest vocal chords in the business. His debut album Blackbird was a runaway success thanks to his down n’ dirty groove and a set of pipes that sound like they were doused in motor oil before being fired up. If you like your rock as soulful and gritty as it comes, look no further than this guy.
With a bursting star rapidly on the rise, Ngaiire has used her gorgeous vocals and eclectic style to please even the most discerning music buffs. Papa New Guinea born, but us Aussies never had any problem claiming a musician this good before (see: Kimbra, John Butler, AC/DC) and Ngaiire’s quintessential tone and enticing expression makes her a glistening treasure trove for us thieves.
Jack Froggatt – Mansionair
Here we have a voice that in its sheer beauty and subtlety, rises above the crowd in a music scene that is, at times, overrun with banal imitations and poor adaptations of the best. Jack Froggatt, quite simply, could be one of the best. His angelic tone and swooning expression brings the music of Mansionair into a world of crystal clarity, perhaps one of the reasons for their recent success with glistening glaciers of ice cold tunage like Hold Me Down and, more recently, Speak Easy. What’s more? The grapevine is quivering with rumours the boys are working on a new album, oh baby.
Teaghan Alexander – Mamajae
When you realise you probably haven’t heard of Mamajae you’ll prbably be all like “whaaaa?!” because, it won’t be long until everyone’s head of them. The Sydney psych soul juggernaut bring an element of the extra terrestrial to some tasty 60’s vibes which is all well and good, but, fronted by Teaghan Alexander, it’s a whole new ball game. To witness the ecstatic boom of Alexander’s howl live is to realise the whole point of music and to feel truly connected and alive. Such a sheerly personal and divinely pure singer can make the world stand still and remind us all why we value music so dearly in our culture.
Maz DeVita – WAAX
There’s nothing quite as cathartic and liberating than screaming at the top of your lungs but, what if you could do it while simultaneously holding a tune? Ask Maz DeVita what it’s like, she knows. DeVita brings all the visceral release of punk with all the insistent power of soul to the music of Waax and it’s as glorious as it is bone crunching.
David Le’aupepe – Gang Of Youths
You may recognise this fella from his unique and gorgeous skipping skills in the music video for Magnolia. Speaking of unique and gorgeous, Le’aupepe’s vocals for self proclaimed “dad rock” legends, Gang Of Youths, are just that. Dave explodes on stage and on record with a baritone that glows like a fireplace in an old English pub and an all-out ferocious howl that is like a cheese grater, flaking tasty goodness into your ear holes.
Jesse Coulter – Grenadiers
Jesse may look like a rebellious, biker Stephen Merchant but he sings with the attitude of a mountain lion on fire, blazing down a hill, fucking shit up. Grenadiers are the perfect punk band for someone who likes a little intelligence in their raucous aural assaults and Jesse’s unrelenting bellows provide the perfect face to the tattooed, beaten body that is the band.
Jake Webb – Methy Ethel
Androgyny or boyish charm? Who cares? It’s 2016 for goodness’ sake. Anyway, the divine gold spindles that fly from the mouth of Methyl Ethel’s fresh-faced frontman are enough to defy any notions of the flesh-puppetry we call the human condition. A voice so pure is utterly ethereal and transcends physicality in order to transport the listener into a realm of bliss.
Dane Taylor – Shining Bird
Not may can pull of the fabled golden baritone quite like this guy. Dane Taylor’s voice is best served warm and sticky poured over a steaming hot bowl of musical cake. Shining Bird’s ambient synth-rock is like across between Icelandic myths Sigur Ros and Nick Cave with the echoing hum of Taylor’s shimmering bass filling the deepest reaches of your psyche, listen after listen.
This Melbourne dweller can’t help but ooze sexual goo in every musical endeavour thanks to his succulent vocal chops. Paul Dempsey is a seasoned hand in the art of vocal mastery and has been singing hairs off the backs of our necks for years now with track after track of musical and vocal gold.
Elizabeth Mitchell – Totally Mild
Not many people on this humble planet of ours can make apathy sound so damn pretty. Totally Mild’s Elizabeth Mitchell possesses the gift of a voice that blooms like a sunflower when it lazily drips it’s honey over the stories it spins. The easy lethargy of Totally Mild is dipped generously in the humble extravagance of such a pretty sound.
Jack Ladder – Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders
Is anyone else noticing this sexed-up 80’s synth pop resurgence? Jack Ladder sits cozied up to other 80’s revivalists Donny Benet and Kirin J Callinan bringing the love back to synthetic tunes. Another contender for golden baritone of the year, Jack Ladder’s deep grumble is so low it tickles the edges of your lips like the spice leftover from a pack of chilli twisties.
Currently, undoubtedly descending from the high of supporting another goldmine of vocal trasures from the US, Allen Stone, this Sydney born songbird has the chops to pull it off. Iluka’s star crossed falsetto weaves into your consciousness as if it is crafting a silk tapestry mural of your favourite things right behind your eyes. Glorious.
Ben Woolner-Kirkham – SAFIA
SAFIA have been sitting pretty on the highest throne of Australia’s immense Electro scene of thanks, in no small part, to the intensely distinctive vocal of frontman Ben. Granted, electronic music has a tendency to be a tad samey from band to band yet, SAFIA manage to set themselves apart with Ben’s soulful drawl and the unmistakable, burning grit in his voice.
Rounding out our sprawling list of voice wizards, Meg Mac is by no means last. Bringing dazzling class to a sombre, old school soul is something she does impeccably. Meg Mac is a master of expression and moves effortlessly between tender plucks of your longing heart strings and spine tingling, knee slappin’ crescendo. Put your red lipstick on and let this soul queen douse you in the impassioned flames of your every feeling ever.