Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Curate's Egg

I expected a bit more from last night’s Acoustica and have to admit the acts were appealing at best, poor at worst. I must say that I probably enjoyed the first performer Kat Flint the most. She was engaging, refreshingly self-deprecating and managed to render the serious themes she explored in her songwriting as free of cliché as possible. I liked her. New Yorker David Francis was a bit embarrassing to tell the truth and this was a shame because having listened to one or two clips of his stuff online, I expected more. His voice was somewhat evocative and pleasing and reminded me a little of Paul McCartney crossed with a soupcon of Zimmerman and a pinch of Cohen. His songs were rather awful though. He tried so hard to be knowing, witty and poetic but came across as clumsy and ‘sixth form’. I admit to enjoying his cringeworthy ditty about a cigarette lighter for all the wrong reasons; one to be filed under ‘so bad, it’s good’ I feel. Jane Taylor, the headliner, certainly lacked nothing in self-assurance and self-belief; before every song she felt the need to address something that was wrong with the sound. She wasn’t backward in trumpeting her soaring successes either (the playing of a song of hers on the Johnny Walker Show and the background use of one of her numbers on American youth soap Dawson’s Creek!) but the quality of her ‘product’ didn’t really match the hype. I don’t really want to listen to a song inspired by a wall falling down in her back garden and her attempt at a portrait of all the ‘interesting characters’ living in Montpellier, Bristol was just a bit obvious; Suzanne Vega was writing that kind of song with heaps more insight and intelligence twenty years ago. Her singing voice was unusual and strong but I just couldn’t warm to her or her rather unsubtle, insipid material. This was not art. I think this morning I’ll chuck on some Laura Veirs, Laura Cantrell, Lucinda Williams or Gillian Welch and remind myself how it can be done.

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