Believe What You Hear About Angela McCluskey
There’s a line from a Hits Magazine review, describing the striking sound of Scottish torch singer Angela McCluskey’s vocals. It reads: “[They] will make you remember the first time you heard Miles blow his horn or Billie sing the blues.”
McCluskey regards those words as malarkey: “Give me a fucking break,” she booms in a thick, throaty brogue. “They must be high.” They’re not. Perhaps it’s the result of never having a singing lesson (“they make your voice too polite,” she explains) or her Irish ancestry (“maybe they came over from Africa”), but McCluskey’s voice has a rich, quivering, soulful sensuousness that haunts and soothes. “It’s really just plaintive howling,” she bellows back.
Best known for “Breathe,” the 2003 new age-y aria featured in a Mitsubishi commercial, McCluskey has been making music since 1991, when she came to L.A. as a film publicist by profession and singer in spirit. Along with a friend from London named Shark, she formed the band The Wild Colonials, set up a weekly show at Café Largo, and began attracting a cult following that included Winona Ryder, Bono, Michael Stipe, and members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. She then collaborated with French band Telepopmusik, released her first solo album entitled “The Things We Do,” realized she’d “lived the American Dream four times now,” and settled into a cozy kind of success.
“I never feel like I have to be The Pop Star,” she admits. “I’m happy selling 100,000 albums, touring a little, and having a life. I’m not willing to give my whole life to it. It’s depressing. Everyone wants a bit of you. You’re always in that hotel room, on a bus, on your own, and the phone isn’t ringing. Guys get the girls, but girls get nobody -- the guys who talk to you are insane; and your best friends are your hair and makeup artists. I’d rather be home watching The Sopranos.”
Or, working on a “me me me dot-com album,” as she’s currently doing in New York. The project, her second solo album, is inspired by everything she loves – George Harrison and PJ Harvey included. “It’s purely indulgent. But, fuck it, that’s what we’re here for.”
Angela McCluskey performs tonight at 9pm with Telepopmusik at Don Hill’s, 511 Greenwich St., NYC; donhills.com
For more on her: myspace.com/angelamccluskeymusic.
Photos by © Armstrong Beck