This morning I woke up with Leona Naess singing in my head, and the next thing that popped into it was the question posed in the title of this blog post.
I mean, why not? You’d think that being the ex-stepdaughter of Diana Ross (her father was the late Norwegian mountaineer and billionaire entrepreneur Arne Naess Jr., Ross’s second husband) would have gotten her somewhere. Or perhaps being Ryan Adams’s ex-fiancee. Or maybe this: Her sister-in-law is Cougar Town star Christa Miller. Ok, try this: She could pass for the kid sister of The Good Wife. (Is it me, or does she strikingly resemble Emmy winner Julianna Margulies?)
Well, so much for fame by association. In a perfect world, Naess’s music would speak for itself. But planet earth is a confusing, unfair place, or Naess wouldn’t be virtually unknown and still hitless after releasing four stellar albums, beginning with 2000’s Comatised. I might have completely missed out on Naess had her MCA Records publicist not bought her by the Teen People offices in 2000 to plug her debut album. By the time I saw her live at the Living Room on New York City’s Lower East Side shortly after the release of her 2003 self-titled third album, I was a full-fledged fan.
No female singer-songwriter this century has hugged my soul quite like Naess, but it’s hard to pinpoint why. She’s never used the same running musical theme twice on her albums, so it’s not like she has a readily identifiable sound. Yet all four possess an unmistakable creative and emotional stamp: Naess’s delicate, plaintive voice singing hard-earned truths that make you want to embrace the messenger and right all the wrongs in her life.
But apparently, life doesn’t quite imitate her mostly sad art. According to a January 2010 posting on her MySpace page (how anachronistic, even two years ago — another reason why I love her), she was expecting her first child, she’d “never been happier,” and she didn’t get Florence + the Machine. Now I think I love her even more.
Five Leona Naess Songs to Learn and Sing… and Love
“Charm Attack” (from Comatised)
“Blue Eyed Baby” (from I Tried to Rock You But You Only Roll)
“Calling” (from Leona Naess)
“He’s Gone” (from Leona Naess)
“Swing Swing Gently” (from Thirteens)