The influx of women in rock, especially within the independent circles of recent years, has been well-documented. As has the rise of southern fragmented singer songwriters—some of my colleagues like to refer to it as “alt.” Yet there has been a notable lapse when it comes to a crossover of the two, and despite a few exceptions, the singer songwriter landscape remains a male-dominated terrain.
Don't worry, I'm not going to turn this into some sort of pseudo-fem diatribe, but the question does deserve to be asked; where have all the cowgirls gone? They are out there, so more importantly, why are they not as widely accepted as their noisier counterparts playing the DIY rock clubs?
Maybe this explains the tired rasp behind Beth Wawerna's melodies. As the frontwoman and main songwriter for Bird of Youth, Wawerna exudes a quiet confidence that is worn with experience. Her publicist calls it a “cool stoicism”, but there is nothing on BoY's Defender debut to imply it's anything but natural. There's a strength within that belies the withdrawn nature of her delivery; this isn't Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, this is Elvis Costello playing “Radio Radio” on SNL.
Maybe with a self-released (with help from Secretly Canadian distro) debut LP and a supporting cast that includes production by Will Sheff of Okkervil River, and an indie-rock who's who of players from The Wrens, Nada Surf, The National and the Mendoza Line, people will take notice. Then again, I don't think Wawerna will care. At least her cool stoicism won't let us on if she does. Bird of Youth's Defender is available now.