Material: r.e.l. is a 19-year-old indie-pop artist who creates layered songs with an upbeat pop sound inspired by passion and a sunny disposition. Her songs are personal and close to her heart, and range from the historically and politically driven “Love Your Neighbor,” to the perfect-for-summer electronic “Headed for the Sun” and the slow yet powerful “Plateau,” a video which has been featured on MTV Iggy.
Musicianship: r.e.l.’s compelling sound comes from her juxtaposition of opposing qualities. Her controlled and crisp vocals exude a dream sequence feel by matching the rhythm and sound of the backing music to the tone of her vocals to create a beautiful harmony. Elegantly bare lyrics complement the songs’ tone and resonate with the listener. Every aspect is tender and intricate, down to the pronunciation and inflection of each word. For such nuanced songs, it is surprising that they do not feel overworked. Rather, r.e.l. is able to produce a complex song with a mellow, trance-like simplicity.
Performance: A hard left and only a few dozen feet from the door stood r.e.l., backed by a bassist, drummer and somone on an Abelton Live sequencer. The rustic cabin feel of the bar’s basement was warmed every time she stopped to joke or smile. She didn’t command the audience. Instead, her performance was more akin to a conversation. The give and take created a sense of belonging.
Her performance of her religious warfare-inspired song “Love Your Neighbor” was so penetrating, it should be listening to by students of foreign policy. While the artist’s feet seemed to stay in the same position for the whole performance, her arms pirouetted through the air and her body moved to the tempo of each song perfectly. Near the end of her set, she sampled “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” with a tenderness that mirrored Anya Marina’s cover of “Whatever You Like.” As she thanked the crowd, shouts for an encore erupted to which she obliged.
Summary: r.e.l. has a rare ability to radiate both effortless coolness as well as an approachability that intoxicates the audience. The challenge, as she tries to expand her audience, will be establishing her place within a community of young female artists with a similar sound. Her individuality will come from the upbeat sincerity that differentiates her from her more brooding, dark peers. As a young artist who only began writing songs a couple of years ago, r.e.l. has excelled at honing her sound and style. With continued growth, hopefully her evolution will lead her to expand and differentiate her musical styles.
The Players: Arielle (r.e.l.) Sitrick, vocals; Austin Foley, Ableton Live; Kiko Brenneisen, drums; Andrew Hill, bass; Eric Walker, special guest performer.
Venue: The Dirty Laundry
City: Los Angeles, CA