‘Suitcase Song’ is a delightful track from Disc Two of Nellie McKay’s 2004 debut album, Get Away From Me. McKay’s blend of jazz and pop and her throwback vocal style earned this album a ton of critical acclaim.
She has worked pretty steadily since, though I lost track of her after her sophomore effort, Pretty Little Head. She has released four more studio albums and delivered an award-winning turn on Broadway in The Threepenny Opera.
It’s been almost ten years since I last paid attention to Nellie McKay. Her 2006 album Pretty Little Head, on which today’s random SOTD appears, was an uneven follow-up to her delightful debut, Get Away From Me, and it removed any desire I had to stick with her.
In hindsight, that wasn’t very fair to Ms. McKay, who is undeniably talented at both songwriting and singing across multiple genres. Most people are allowed three strikes.
I used to have a rule that any time an American singer recorded a song in French, the result was pretentious shit. I’m not even sure what that rule was based on, but I believed it adamantly.
While some would say Billy Joel’s ‘C’Etait Toi (You Were The One)’ should be Exhibit A for my no-French rule, I’ve actually always had a soft spot for that song. I think it stems from the (true?) story that he was booed while singing it in France by a crowd unimpressed with his accent. Fuck you, Frenchies.
Nellie McKay is an artist I feel I should like even more than I do. She is fiercely talented, super smart, quite witty and has a gift for melody. Her debut album, Get Away From Me, is chock full of inventive and addictive tunes that are right up my alley.
But for some reason she kind of lost me with the release of her second album, Pretty Little Head. That album was delayed for over a year while she fought with the record company over its length… she wanted to release a 2-disc, 23-song version while the label insisted on a single disc, 16-song version. I applaud her tenacity in sticking to her guns as she eventually broke with the label and released it the way she intended.