Livestream Copiague, NY
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Material: New Yorker Christine Sweeney is a singer-songwriter with an oversized heart and a zest-filled personality to match. Although she often plays and records with her band, The Dirty Stayouts, on this occasion she strummed an acoustic solo set as the opening act for longtime friend Rorie Kelly. Her style has been likened to a blend of R&B, folk, pop, soul, and blues. Those stylistic threads are perfectly detectable in her yarns, which cover topics including existential crises (“Feeling So Low,” “Wishes”), relationships that go in circles (“Anywhere, Anyway”), and cats and coffee (“The Better Parts”). “Coyote” features an irresistible, bluesy howl.
Musicianship: There’s only so far an artist can take a vision when playing alone, especially when expressing that perspective over a less-than-prime online connection. Nonetheless, Sweeney pours her emotions into every note she wrings from her acoustic guitar, and her voice feels like an autumn morning bursting with hope and promise. The stream would have benefitted, though, if the camera position had allowed watching her hands as they flitted up and down her instrument.
Performance: Sweeney played for a full hour, bookending her appearance by interacting with Kelly. Smartly, she publicly thanked the Music Connection reviewer in attendance for checking her out. (How come more artists don’t do this?) Her personality is positively brimming, and many moments were marked with infectious laughter, making between-song banter as enjoyable as any of her ballads. Sweeney’s talents would have been better showcased, though, if she’d played in front of something other than a shimmery background. She also should have been more explicit about name checking who was originally responsible for the tunes she covered.
Summary: There are many reasons why audiences might fall for Sweeney and her not-too-cool-for-school songcraft. She’s the genuine article, playing for the love of music and a pure desire to imprint her personal experiences onto others. Her strumming skills and vocals are similarly commendable. One only wishes that the gig had been better promoted so it attracted more than a handful of watchers. Those with piqued interest should seek her latest recording, Heart In a Hurry. That album surely presents a better taste of Sweeney’s capabilities.