Saturday, January 5, 2013

Naomi Psalm, Joseph Lyle and Johnny Butler @ the Red Room (1/3/13)

A brief announcement before my review:

Last March, I decided to start a blog.  Figured I could use it to sharpen up my writing.  At the very least, it'd give me something to do--I'd been unemployed for about nine months by this point.

At first, I'd conceived of the blog as a dump site for my thoughts on movies that I'd seen, books that I'd read, etc (hence the blog's name, which was a joke of sorts on the Bob Dylan lyric, "I need a dump truck, baby, to unload my head").  Then I started writing about the live shows that I'd seen.  I'd gone to so many of them over the two years prior that I figured I might as well.  Writing these posts proved to be a lot of fun.  Even better, people actually seemed to read them.

Fast forward to today.  I've had the chance to hear a lot of great music and to meet some really cool, talented people.  I got a steady, paying writing gig in September thanks in no small part to this blog.  I won third place for Best Local Blogger in Boise Weekly's Best of 2012.  Quite a few people have told me that I'm helping the music scene around Boise.  In short, the thing that I've wanted for most of my life, a writing career, feels within reach for the first time ever.

And none of this would have happened or been possible without the readership and support of you good people out there.  So once again, as always and forever, thank you so much.

Okay, enough of that.  Back to the music...

This show interested me because it featured two acts I hadn't seen in quite a while, Naomi Psalm and Johnny Butler.  Also, Joseph Lyle's band, A Sea of Glass, had impressed me greatly at the Garage Voice concert back in November, so I was curious to see how he'd do on his own.  Admittedly, Naomi Psalm and the Red Room seemed like an odd fit, but hey, odd works for me.

I'd thought that some of the First Thursday crowd might find their way down here.  Goes to show you my powers of prediction: there were five people at the Red Room when I arrived (not counting me or the bar staff), two of whom would leave before the live music began.  Some of the musicians' friends and a few random people showed up over the course of the night, but the crowd still didn't rise over fifteen.  Oh well.

Johnny Butler kicked off the show.  His melodies sounded just as soothing as they did at Tom Grainey's back in July, and his guitar picking/strumming/tapping was as assured and inventive as I remembered.  His lyrics still didn't strike me as anything special, but they connected anyway thanks to the extra little oomph that he put into his light, pleasant vocals.  When you give your songs titles like "Morpheus," "Venus" and "At Eternity's End" and I don't roll my eyes, you're doing something very, very right.

Joseph Lyle played next.  His guitar playing wasn't quite as astonishing as Johnny Butler's was, but it was still plenty dexterous and had a bit more straight-ahead propulsion.  Both his lyrical pop-tunes and his delicate, yearning tenor held up fine even without his bandmates backing him up.  Enticing stuff.

Naomi Psalm closed out the night.  Her bassist couldn't make the gig for some reason, but she and her rock-steady new drummer did a more than respectable job on their own.  Her folk-pop melodies sounded just as fresh as they did last June, and her sweet, quietly aching vocals sounded even stronger.  Her funny, down-to-earth lyrics retained their charm, and the meager audience didn't seem to faze her or dampen her spirits in the least.  Irresistible.

You can find info on these acts on Facebook and elsewhere online.

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