No, not Poe as in Edgar Allan…although he was the inspiration for this particular nom de plum, as he was the favorite author of Annie Danielewski when she was young. This young Poe would write, but her poetry would come with a beat as strong and persistent as that wicked, wicked Tell-Tale Heart.
I loved Poe. I still pull up her two albums on my iPod whenever I want to relive those angry, grungy college days. I remember how subversive and naughty her song and accompanying video “Angry Johnny” was…how MTV would only play it late at night because it was too sexeh for prime time:
Admittedly, this was pretty risque…for 1995. Now, it exudes a dated innocence…the puerile adolescent exploring the newly discovered joy of the double entendre while experimenting with all variety of musical genres. Little bit of grunge. Little bit of jazz. Dash of electronica. Smidgen of hip-hop. Poe’s musical stylings could best be described as eclectic. Nuanced. Different.
Oh, but that voice. Pure as a church pew, sultry as a new religion that’ll bring you to your knees (if you please). I will listen to Poe sing anything in the world. Sadly, however, she only released two albums, the 1995 Hello and 2000’s Haunted. Interesting fact about Haunted is that she found the inspiration for all the songs from brother Mark Z. Danielewski’s debut novel, House of Leaves. I’ve mentioned this book here just recently; it’s an amazing debut. It’s also one of the most difficult books I’ve ever read. You must be willing to commit more than a month to wading through the density of this epic. However, if you want an interesting glimpse into some of the aspect of the tale, take a listen to big sister’s complementary CD. Probably the most famous song from this second album is “Hey Pretty,” which Atlantic released as a remixed version for radio and video, interspersing the song with snippets of Mark reading from his novel:
You might have also caught this song on a Ford commercial. Because why not?
Another bit of trivia about this album is that Poe found another source of familial inspiration, thanks to the discovery of recordings that her father had made throughout his life. She interspersed snippets of these recordings all throughout the album, often with…haunting effect.
Apparently, when Atlantic merged with AOL Time Warner, Poe’s contract became a casualty of war. Instead of heading into the studio to record her promised third album, she ended up spending her time fighting Atlantic for her music and her release from her contract. In the interim, she also did some writing and recording for Conjure One, an electronic project fronted by Delerium artist Rhys Fulber. She appeared on the group’s first two albums (which I own).
I’ve heard Interwebz rumblings that Poe finally won her war against Atlantic and is once again ready to record. Of course, those rumors are from 2012. It’s been two years since and still nothing. I’d love it if she did finally return to singing in venues that I can access. Until then, I revisit my love affair with 90s alt-rock quite often through her two solidly strange albums. I’ll just leave this here. It’s my favorite song from Hello, and the song that I think perfectly exemplifies that quirky melange approach she had for musical genres. I give you “Fingertips”: