October 21, 2012

Concert #656 - Tift Merritt at McCabe's Guitar Shop (October 20, 2012)

 Last night's Tift Merritt appearance at McCabe's was a somewhat unusual event, as it offered not one, but two worthy warm-up acts: Amy Cook and Tyler Lyle. They were both very good, yet when Tift came out, one could immediately tell why she got the headlining job.

Based on what I saw last night at McCabe's, there are three words that best describe Tift, the musician: talent, talent and talent. She writes intelligent songs that have enough hooks to grab one's attention, are lively enough not to put anyone to sleep and are far more tuneful than the average singer-songwriter fare I hear nowadays. And to these ears, she sings better now than ever before. Her brand new album, "Traveling Alone", is full of gems and we got to hear each and every one of them, starting with the gorgeous "Sweet Spot". There were no weak songs last night and that made it easier for me to accept the absence of "Good Hearted Man" from her set.

Tift Merritt at McCabe's
Tift Merritt's band included long-time collaborator Jay Brown on bass, Eric Heywood on various string instruments and a drummer whose name I do not know. They sounded great together, although the drummer's overzealous play at times was a bit too loud for me and everyone else sitting, just like I was, seven or eight feet from the drum set - mea culpa, one might say. Tift accompanied herself on piano for the playing of three songs, the best of which was "Small Talk Relations". Other songs that I liked were "Too Soon To Go", "Still Not Home", "Drifted Apart" and "Traveling Alone", the new album's title track.

Tift Merrit playing the piano at McCabe's
Tift Merritt's set list
Tift Merritt introducing the band
Tift Merritt and Jay Brown at the end of show

The evening started with a five-song set delivered by Tyler Lyle, a young LA-based Southerner who can definitely write and sing. His songs and performance cannot be characterized as "high-energy", yet he manage to draw everyone into his music, hence the crowd's strong response. His best numbers were "Young Men" and "Never Reach My Destination". Tyler is someone I will meet again in the future, I'm convinced.

Tyler Lyle picking up his belongings at the end of his set
Tyler Lyle's set list
Immediately following Tyler Lyle, singer-songwriter Amy Cook delivered a seven-song set that was exceptionally good, one of the best opening sets I have ever heard at McCabe's. Despite her claim of nervousness, she appeared to be quite self-confident as she sang six self-penned songs, plus "Dreaming", a Blondie cover. While her guitar playing was very effective in grabbing my attention, her strongest assets were her songwriting and voice. The highlights of her set were "It's Gonna Rain" and the set-ending "When I Wake Up", both found on her recent album titled "Summer Skin".

Amy Cook at McCabe's
Amy Cook's set list
Amy Cook's concert poster
First in line at McCabe's: Bill and Paula
The left side of the stage
The right side of the stage
The merch table

No comments:

Post a Comment