Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.


I'm the One
(RCA; reissued by Light in the Attic)

Pretend you're me for a second. Okay, we've never met, but I mean just musically. Despite your best intentions, your ears are impatient and finicky; they're childish. You've been drowning them in new things for close to two years—but all the years before that were spent fumbling around in a kind of felted darkness during which you asked for little help and were often afraid to adventure.

It's weird to go around the world and this musical city like this, to work in an office where you immediately rented a bunch of what you thought were cool-kid CDs from the library the minute you got hired. It's in that environment and head space that I want you to get out Annette Peacock. Put it on a decent stereo. Press play.

If it's too hard to project, I'll tell you the first thing that happens. You say out loud without even meaning to, "Oh shit." What you mean is that this is some jazz-dude explosion, a jizz wave of smart instrument people noodling around. About a minute and a half into that first track (it opens mid–jam session), something's going to happen that makes your eyes get big. You can't help it; your eyebrows just pull 'em way up. "I'm the one," commands Peacock's low syrup voice. "You don't have to look any further—I'm the one."

What is it in the one or two seconds it takes for her to say it that demonstrates immediately that you should pay attention? Who knows? Some humans can just do that. From that moment on, "rapt" is the appropriate adjective for your attention and behavior. Her voice scratches and yowls, sometimes seducing, sometimes mourning. Track two is immediately different. Carole King's even sexier, even sadder older sister is singing about how long someone's been gone. "Won't you please come home?" How can she do the strut so well in the first song—you can just hear heavy-lidded eyes and serious hips—and then do this sad flower-child torch song? She's so lonely. Tough, but lonely. And maybe the toughness is a show?

At times, listening to music is a party, a ruckus, a soundtrack to connection and liveliness. Other times, the alone-ness of someone's voice matching your alone-ness multiplies it somehow. It's a comfort, but it's not enough. Sometimes, Peacock makes your alone-ness too big. (Don't listen to this alone in the dark too much.)

You can get out of my head now! Sorry! I just wanted to give you a tour, there. And, hey, you're not me! You can love Annette Peacock in a whole different, even more complicated way. But you will love her.

I give this a "BRB, building her a shrine" out of 10. recommended