Linda Draper – Snow White Trash Girl

Linda Draper
Snow White Trash Girl

I had to do some research before writing this release, for I admit to knowing no more about the scene dubbed “antifolk” than that it existed in New York City and centered around the musician known as Lach. Much more diverse than the name would lead you to think, the scene has spawned such artists as Beck, Michelle Shocked, Major Matt Mason USA (and his other project, Schwervon), The Moldy Peaches, King Missile’s John S. Hall, and others. From my quick online research, it appears to be a combination of rock or punk lyrics and sensibilities with folk structures, made as diverse as the artists mentioned above.
Linda Draper, then, would clearly fall into such a category. Produced by musician/producer Kramer, a New York institution, Draper’s two self-released albums – and she’s nothing if not prolific, with a third coming later this year – demonstrate simple combinations of acoustic guitar and voice. But Draper doesn’t sing your typical broken-hearted acoustic ballads. Rather, her dreamy, echoey vocal effects impart a slightly chilling feel, clearly the focus on this album, and her lyrics are filled with stories and depth. If only the quality of the album was improved so I didn’t have to turn the volume way up, facing distorted effects, to understand the lyrics.
That being said, this isn’t really an easy album to listen to. There’s almost no variation, as each song has the same echoey vocals and subtle guitar. But, at times those vocals and unique production flares really shine. “Snow White Trash Girl” contrasts sweet-sounding vocals with lyrics that remind me of Ani Difranco. “Retrograde” is a bit more playful, a bit more poppy, while “Full Moon” has a deep melancholic feel. A bit clearer, the vocals on “Hey Dante” are kind of silly, and the song is a bit more rambunctious, almost loud for this artist. “Wake up before your alarm clock goes off like a bomb exploding throughout the whole central time zone while the sun gets drunk on ozone,” she sings. The vocals are downright beautiful on “The One,” as they layer wonderfully, almost gospel-like. “The Priest Who Looked Like Elvis” is perhaps the most sing-alongable, while “Disconnected” ends with one of the most folky feelings tracks on this album.
As diverse as the antifolk movement is, I still appreciate my folk or rock music to have more variety. Perhaps if Draper varied the pace and flow of her songs or added some different instrumentation the album would be easier to get through. But perhaps that’s Draper’s style: a similar approach, with slight variances to differentiate the songs. She’d likely be the perfect coffee house chanteuse, but on album, it becomes just a tad hard to swallow in one sitting.