Tuesday night’s Troubadour show gets the week off to a flying start with the pairing of Norwegian songstress Ane Brun and British singer-songwriter Gemma Ray. I have been digging Brun’s music for several years. She has a spare and ethereal quality that is very compelling. Her new one It All Starts With One finds her nicely filling out her sound. Ray, a more recent discovery, has a beguiling way with updating ‘60s girls group pop. The songs I’ve heard from her latest Island Fire are very cool indeed.
Tuesday also finds the Portland Cello Project rolling into Largo. As their name suggests, they play cellos but play them to hip-hop on their latest Homage, which makes for an interesting collision of musical styles.
Another creative use of classical music will happen on Wednesday at UCLA’s Royce Hall, where Portugal, The Man will utilize members of the UCLA Philharmonia in a special performance (with HAIM and The Ten Thousand also on the bill). The Grammy Museum, meanwhile, hosts one of its Homegrown sessions, with the Belle Brigade being a very worthy subject of their spotlight. Their debut album last year was a joy to listen to.
Wednesday actually offers a bounty of great shows. Sarah Jaffe may hail from Texas but she isn’t a twangy troubadour. Jaffe reveals his adventurous musical nature on The Body Wins, her new album that I reviewed for American Songwriter. Rootsy rock mainstays, the Bodeans, who now are led just by Kurt Neumann, headline the Troubadour. Stories Bookstore has a free show from Run Run Run’s Xander Smith, whose new solo work is quiet yet impressive music.
Another practitioner of quiet music, Peter Bradley Adams, who was part of eastmountainsouth during his L.A. days returns with a show at the Hotel Café on Thursday. The Danish group Alcoholic Faith Mission boasts a sound that is much more gentle, bucolic sound than their name implies.
Friday holds a variety of interesting concert options. The Royal Southern Brotherhood, which features Devon Allman and Cyril Neville, bring their Dixie-grooved rock ‘n’ roll to Hermosa Beach’s Sainte Rocke on the 5/18. The Mint will be jamming too to the Afro-Latin reggae rhythms of Sarazino, who has a new disc, Everyday Salama, due on Cumbancha.
I’ve always enjoyed the Great Lake Swimmers’ stylish sound, which is something like their fellow Canadians Blue Rodeo but with a bit more indie rock edge. They will be at the Troubadour on Friday night. Kina Grannis, who hit with a charming video and song “In Your Arms,” comes to the John Anson Ford, while the hip kids will be at the Wiltern for Best Coast.
My top choice for Saturday night would be Lee Fields & The Expressions will be filling the Echo with some sweet soul music. Fields has been around since the late ‘60s but is finally getting the chance to show what a terrific singer and entertainer he is. However, you couldn’t go wrong with the always intriguing Shelby Lynne at McCabe’s (if tickets are still to be had for this intimate show). Another often-confessional female singer-songwriter Garrison Starr has a record release show at the Hotel Café.
Plant and Animals, who come out of the Montreal scene that spawned Arcade Fire, bring their brand of indie rock to the Satellite, while rising singer-songwriter Eric Hutchinson has sold out the Troubadour. I was nicely surprised how much his new album Moving Up Living Down grabbed my attention.
After such a jammed week, you can ease through Sunday night with the soulful music of the sublimely fine Holmes Brothers, who will be McCabe’s in support of their latest effort Feed My Soul.