Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ari Hest & Liz Longley, New Hope Winery, New Hope PA, 11/22/2014, Watch Two Superlative Singer-Songwriters Share the Stage

Photo Courtesy of Ari Hest

Ari Hest - Less

Ari Hest and Liz Longley played a superb show at the New Hope Winery on Saturday night November 22, 2014. The Winery features great sight lines and the lighting and sound are excellent. This was an inspired pairing considering that during each set the thunderous applause seemed to indicate that the sold out crowd was there just for them.

The Winery books a lot of great artists, the only drawback being that sometimes tickets can get rather pricey. However on this night, the Winery crowd was treated to two immensely talented singer-songwriters for the price of one.

Ari Hest did a thoroughly enjoyable set which drew liberally from his sixteen year career and featured songs from his latest album, Shouts and Whispers, his eighth. I would be hard pressed to name a favorite from that album (they all sounded great live), but if forced I would have to name "Less". Watch the video above, and several more songs from his set below.

Hest was accompanied by drummer/percussionist Doug Yowell; it's amazing what a full sound can be derived from voice, acoustic guitar, and percussion. It was close to a full band sound and it suited these songs perfectly. Introducing "The Fire Plays", the title track to his last album, Hest explained his association with Judy Collins. He talked about opening for her tour and being invited to sing this song with her during her set (video link below). Incidentally, Collins just released her new album, Strangers Again, on which Hest provides guest vocals on the title song, which he also wrote. This is a duet album in which Hest joins a distinguished list of singing partners that also includes Jackson Browne and Willie Nelson.

I have mixed feelings about audience sing-alongs, they can go either way. But I must say that on "Bird Never Flies" Hest engages the audience on the chorus for maybe the best sing-along I've ever heard (video link below). For the encore, Hest brought Liz Longley out to sing with him on "To Ease My Pain" and sent everyone home fully satisfied.

Photo by Beverly Kates

See more video from this set:
Concrete Sky
The Weight
The Fire Plays
Bird Never Flies
Dead End Driving

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Liz Longley - Bad Habit

Liz Longley opened. She drew most of her set from her new self-titled album (then six months away from release), her fifth. Thom Jurek of the AllMusic Guide had nothing but praise for this record. "Liz Longley's self-titled Sugar Hill debut is the recording that should make the rest of the country aware of what East Coast audiences have known for a while: that she's a savvy singer/songwriter whose work is as well-crafted as it is intimate and direct."

Longley's rapport with the crowd matched her approach to the material. Before every song she shared a story and talked about the relationships gone wrong. You can see this in the videos and in the way that she held the audience in the palm of her hand.

Even though Longley is now based in Nashville, it seemed like a hometown crowd with lots of friends and relatives from the Downingtown, PA area where she grew up. Watch "Bad Habit" above, and more videos from her set below.

Photos Courtesy of Liz Longley

See more video of this set:
Skin and Bones
Only Love This Time Around

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Monday, September 07, 2015

Savour the Sweet, Slightly Subversive ALT-POP of Tamaryn On Her Latest Album Cranekiss

Photo courtesy of Tamaryn

Tamaryn Brown, the dreamy voiced purveyor of shoegaze, who records under the name Tamaryn, has just released her third album, Cranekiss. Based in New York, the New Zealand born singer has created a sound that is both soothing and bracing; on first listen it is apparent that this is something completely different. In an interview with Eve Barlow (Noisey: Music by Vice), Tamaryn says, "I believe that creativity can heal life trauma; it's a form of therapy," she says. "If you do it well you can heal other people with similar negative experiences. I want to master that art." Read the highly interesting interview.

The slightly dirty guitar sound of her last album has been replaced by something more refined. Tamaryn comes out of your speakers with a psyched up, slowed down, early Madonna vibe and has a sound that at times reminds of Aimee Mann's 80's band Til Tuesday ("Voices Carry"). There are also some delicious touches of electro-pop, like Air ("Cherry Blossom Girl") and Ivy ("Ocean City Girl"). I even hear a bit of Lorde in "Hands All Over Me". In my book, when you pair a sweet voice with electric guitars, it works every time. I've never been especially fond of the "alt-" genre labels, but this sounds a lot like Brit Pop with a slightly subversive edge. So, I'll go with alt-pop; I think it fits. Many thanks to JLK of South Philadelphia for this suggestion.

"Cranekiss" (Official Video) from Cranekiss.

"Hands All Over Me" [Official Video] from Cranekiss.

Tamaryn - Cranekiss
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