Bar & Terrace,
(Thurs 29th Sept)
”ËUm, this is another new song,’ declares Eleanor Friedberger tentatively, ”ËI guess not all the songs from my album would work up here’. The album in question, Last Summer, is Friedberger’s debut solo album and tonight is her inaugural UK appearance without her brother, Matthew, and the
Fiery Furnaces set up. It’s a strikingly low-key appearance, too, just Friedberger and an outsized semi-acoustic guitar. We’re unfortunately deprived of her band’s berserker tendencies, wherein their merry go-round time signatures induce a freaky sort of mania. The lovely, 70s AM radio embellishments that adorn her album, all glowing mellotrons and late summer saxophones, are at times sorely missed too.
Still, as the instantly breezy ”ËMy Mistakes’ makes abundantly clear, Friedberger has the songwriter chops to fill out a Boho cafÃÂ©-bar anyway. The nod to girl group heartbreak, ”ËHeaven’, and the soaring defiance of ”ËI Won’t Fall Apart’ lose little in pared down translation. She is also a lyricist of high pedigree, too, and the Spartan set up only draws attention to her articulate, storytelling gifts. In the early days of Fiery Furnances, her ragged pile up of smart wordplay was a little too arch for some, but in recent years her words convey emotions of genuine longing and regret.
The slightly Joni Mitchell air of tonight, particularly on the non-album new songs, suggests that, free from the pummelling sonic demands of her parent band, solo mode is where estrangement, loss and nostalgia can be dwelt upon. After nearly a decade fronting New York’s ultimate hipster band, Friedberger seems to be mulling over events long before ”ËGallowsbird’s Bark’ floored indie kids worldwide. The wistful tone that she slips in and out of on the album is more readily felt tonight and no bad thing. Only the Prog-psyche shimmer of ”ËInn of the Seventh Ray’ echoes her daytime musical occupation. As she crouches down by an armchair, as a way of ”Ëcoming off stage’, and dressed in preppy-geek gear that only she carries off well, Friedberger lets out a sly grin. Any signs of apprehension have been banished.
An intimate triumph.