Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Amy Allison at Banjo Jim’s, NYC 5/30/09

In addition to being a great songwriter, Amy Allison is also one of the funniest performers around. Once she gets going it pretty much steamrolls from there, but this time out, playing solo for most of the show, she basically stuck to the set list without a lot of interplay with the crowd. Instead, it was a night of masterfully crafted, minute inflections that packed a wallop: she can say more with the careful twist of a phrase than most singers can in an album’s worth of songs. Most of the set was from her forthcoming, career-best cd Sheffield Streets (look for a review here toward the end of June when it comes out), including the title track. Allison lived in Sheffield, UK for a time when she was married, this particular number cataloguing some of the more amusing street names in the area: Spittle Hill and so forth. The song also sets up a joke, in that there are so many of them that they’re hard to remember. This time around (cheat sheet? – it was hard to see, there were so many people in the bar) she got through without a hitch.

Otherwise, it was a mix of styles: the rootsy, snidely cheery pop of Hate at First Sight; the gorgeously swaying country ballad Thank God for the Wine (what an appropriate song for the evening, from this perspective, anyway); an older tune, the catchy Everybody Ought to Know By Now, which she’d re-recorded for the new album as a duet with Dave Alvin, although she said wryly  that in retrospect, “It doesn’t work as a duet.”

 Toward the end of the set guitarist Rich Hinman of the Madison Square Gardeners, an occasional Allison sideman, came through the front door and immediately Allison did a doubletake. He’d been at one gig, he was about to play another, unbeknownst to the both of them, so he immediately plugged in his Telecaster, both she and the crowd immediately appreciative of his incisively thoughtful fills and a couple of brief solos. They ended with an audience request (Allison is always deluged with more than there’s time to play), her signature song, The Whiskey Makes You Sweeter, and with at least one member of her old band the Maudlins looking on, it was as fresh and funny as when she’d first debuted it some fifteen years ago. Watch this space for news of a cd release show somewhere.

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June 2, 2009 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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