Zero 7 already had a wealth of vocal talent on their 2001 album, Simple Things, rotating Mozeez, Sophie Barker and Sia Furler into the lead vocal slot like so many ace pitchers in a championship starting rotation. As such, they hardly needed another singer, and yet when they recorded this year's release, When It Falls, they could not resist adding a fourth vocalist in the person of Tina Dico. When Dave & I saw Zero 7 play New York's Irving Plaza back in May, all four vocalists were amazing, as was the instrumental excellence of the group led by Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker who bring so much more to the table than would be suggested by the characterization that they are merely a British version of Air.
In addition to her prodigious vocal talent, Dico's knockout good looks are totally consistent with her Danish origin. I'd travel to hear any of these fine vocalists work solo; Sia's got a great solo album but so far only Dico has done solo gigs stateside, playing several times over the last few months at the Livingroom, with October dates at Joe's Pub and the following night as part of CMJ at the Fez. I had no sooner secured what I was told were the last two tickets for the Joe's Pub show than Dave learned of a mandatory p.r. event for Sony artist Celine Dion to promote the Anne Geddes' book, Miracle: A Celebration of New Life, scheduled at the same time as the show; Bev wound up the beneficiary of Dave's scheduling snafu.
Performing solo with acoustic guitar, Dico's voice is every bit as strong and powerful as it is when accompanied by the full sound of Zero 7. It was only a minor disadvantage not to have heard her mini-album Far, prior to the show, but she only did two songs from it, "Break of Day" and "Warm Sand." She followed these with two songs not on the album, "Room With a View" which is about moving to London, and "Use Me." She closed with a beautiful solo version of her Zero 7 song "Home" which she co-wrote with the band.
Although she's been quoted as saying that performing solo is much scarier than playing for large audiences with Zero 7, she seemed totally self-assured and in control of her performance, even borrowing Teitur's guitar mid set for its sound. Dico's been compared to Joni Mitchell, and while her songwriting is occasionally excellent, she's got a long way to go before such comparisons are warranted, however you can hear a slight vocal resemblance when Dico's voice soars into the upper register. This girl's got great pipes and between Zero 7 and her solo career, I think we can expect great things from Tina Dico.
Dico seemed additionally pleased to be opening the show for her friend from Denmark, Teitur. Although it may seem somewhat presumptuous for an unknown to bill himself by one name, Teitur Lassen is a twenty-five year old singer songwriter who looks kind of like Beck without the suit and sounds sort of like a mellower Nils Lofgren. I did pick up Teitur's debut album Poetry & Aeroplanes a few months ago and found it to be a pleasant listen although it didn't otherwise dent my consciousness on first or second listen.
With two backup musicians, mostly playing upright bass and drums, the three switched instruments often, including a couple of turns on harmonium by Teitur who also acquitted himself well on acoustic and electric guitars and keyboards. He had a friendly and engaging storytelling style between songs, including accounts of travelling in a tour bus that previously belonged to Willie Nelson, mentioning that he and his band mates like to take turns sitting next to Dico on the bus (so cute). He also mentioned being in New York during the blackout of 8/14/03 as a lead in to "Sleeping With the Light On." His fourteen song set included most if not all of the album, plus a few additional tunes including a mellow yet sort of edgy minor key version of "Great Balls of Fire" to close his set.