Entries in Brighton Music Hall (2)


Sharon Van Etten Live at Brighton Music Hall 4.14.11

My first experience with Sharon Van Etten was 2009's Because I Was In Love, but it wasn't until last years' Epic that I really fell in love with her angelic voice and powerfully personal songs.  That album was fairly high on my favorite albums of 2010 list, and I wasn't alone - it seems like it was on almost every "best of" list I saw.  Just now in the midst of her first headlining tour, she stopped in Boston last Thursday with Lady Lamb the Beekeeper and St. Claire.

The set began with the songwriter alone on stage, guitar in hand.  "I Wish I Knew", the first song from her debut, instantly quieted the audience with its whispered beauty.  The first three songs off Epic followed, ratcheting up the volume and intensity, as her bare bones band (just bass and drums) joined for "Peace Signs" and stayed for most of the main set.  All of the favorites from Epic were featured - "One Day", "Save Yourself", "Don't Do It" and the gorgeous, set-closing "Love More", all played with even more fervor than the album versions.

Sharon Van Etten is working on her follow-up to Epic with The National's Aaron Dessner, and one of the highlights of the night was "All I Can", a new song that one hopes will find its way onto that upcoming album.  In quintessential style, Van Etten croons "we all make mistakes" over jangly electric guitar and a driving rhythm.  Another new song, with a working title of "Kevin's" - named for the owner of the apartment in which it was written, Van Etten explained - was more somber, featuring gorgeous falsetto vocals.

On stage, she draws you in with her casual, endearingly-normal between-song banter, and then knocks you on your ass with the power of her voice and gravity of her songs.  One moment projecting a casual, self-deprecating personality and the next moment transforming into a powerhouse of visceral raw emotion.  The crowd was an interesting mix as well - many there to comiserate, fewer there to celebrate.  All there to witness a night of powerful, beautiful music from one of the most promising young songwriters writing songs today.

A full recording in absolutely pristine sound is available for stream or download.  Huge thanks to Sharon Van Etten and Brighton Music Hall (especially Dan Seiders on sound, who deserves all the credit for how amazing this sounds).  As always please support the bands who allow us to tape shows by buying their music.  Enjoy, and share!

Sharon Van Etten
Brighton Music Hall - Boston MA
April 14, 2011

I Wish I Knew
A Crime
Peace Signs
Save Yourself
Don't Do It
One Day
Tell Me
All I Can
Love More
Have You Seen
A Joke Or A Lie

Full set download:  mp3 zip

Look for a review + live recording of Lady Lamb The Beekeeper's amazing set soon!


Review: Jessica Lea Mayfield at Brighton Music Hall 4.2.11

By Lily Linquata

When asked by WNKU in 2009 what the driving force was behind the tone of her songs, the then  20-year old Jessica Lea Mayfield responded with “sadness.” “I kind of put sadness and music on the same table. It’s… like salt and pepper.

That sadness is the momentum steering Mayfield’s songwriting should come as no surprise to those familiar with her prior releases. Both 2006’s White Lies EP and 2008’s With Blasphemy So Heartfelt LP make Patsy Cline’s drawl sound warm and motherly. With her latest 2011 release, Tell Me, Mayfield seems still driven by the sadness. The direction in which she’s driving, however, just might be brighter.

Following an outstanding set by Kentucky’s darling, Daniel Martin Moore, Jessica Lea Mayfield performed to a giddy audience at Boston’s Brighton Music Hall on April 2nd. Taking the stage in five-inch, silver glittered heels, she carries a simple beauty that extends past platinum blonde hair dye, sequins tops, and adorable cardigans.

No one was fooled by her innocent – if not elegant – get up for long, though. Backed by the infinitely badass Richie Kirkpatrick on electric guitar, by a Highlife-drinking Grant Gustafson on electric bass, and by Scott Hartlaub on drums, Mayfield fits the “bad girl” bill well. Opening her sixteen-song set with “Our Hearts Are Wrong,” she quickly established the evening as more of a rock concert, and as less of a plea from a damsel in distress. The haunting “I’ll Be the One You Want Someday” immediately followed, reintroducing her signature melancholy, but with an edge.

Turned up and accentuating the bass lines, Mayfield et al played the near entirety of Tell Me and included her best pieces from Blasphemy So Heartfelt, “Kiss Me Again,” “We’ve Never Lied,” and the standout ballad, “For Today.” Five songs in, she opted to perform a new song solo, joking that none of the audience would know if that’s how it was supposed to go. While Tell Me does start to sound more hopeful than despairing, new lyrics of “I don’t know what I did wrong, but life just seems so unappealing / I am on the brink of tears when I wake up in the morning” prove that Mayfield is still, and may always be, worlds away from that Taylor Swift-like, bubble-gum pop songwriter, despite the fact that she often looks the part. Nevertheless, one may assume she’s at peace with her darker role. Before playing “Somewhere In Your Heart,” she announced it was an awkwardly sad song written with brother, David Mayfield of the David Mayfield Parade. Not as readily wacky as her brother, the younger sibling’s dry humor does add another layer to a subtle yet complex stage personality.

Jessica Lea Mayfield - Tell Me

Labeled across the music scene as “One to Watch in 2011,” it’s fascinating to witness Mayfield flirt with a title of rocker. Whether she’ll permanently assume this part is unknown, but it is clear that she’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Having been raised in a musical family and having started touring at age eight, Mayfield is, even at 22, a well-seasoned musician. She has admittedly played almost every venue in the country and with the likes of Dan Auerbach, Justin Townes Earle, and The Avett Brothers, among countless other. Her third album turns a new page in her previously bluegrass, alt-country, and folk repertoire book, but certainly much to everyone’s enjoyment.

If you have a chance the see Jessica Lea Mayfield perform live – be it an acoustic set or with her endlessly entertaining band – jump on it. Boys just may fall in love and girls will feel comfortably at home with her inherently feminine, yet beautiful malaise.

Video of Jessica Lea Mayfield performing "Sleepless" live at Brighton Music Hall: