Material: Referring to themselves as an “ocean folk duo,” guitarist Ryan Meier and bassist Marion Earley traverse hipster alternative root territory alongside a refreshing burst of moxie courtesy of the blues. Delectable harmonies and capable registers match smartly with aptly crafted compositions, all backed by their skillfully adept drummer. A lone cover interrupted entirely original songs during their half-hour set, an ingenious spin on Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” that amply showcased their personality and creative originality.
Musicianship: From their vocals to their instrumentation to their deceptively complex sublimely euphoric arrangements, Gentle Temper escape fault. An ability to subtly shift any given song’s dynamics, effortlessly evolving from contemplative, windswept panoramas to passages that express determination through deftly chugging rhythms never fails to impress. Critically, the addition of a percussionist, whose moves include playing the hi-hat with a tambourine, contributes a sonic depth that prevents their sound from ever becoming flat.
Performance: Besides their smartly constructed appearance, Gentle Temper own the stage, hawking merchandise and introducing songs with style. Subtle humor plays its part, one example being the introduction of a tune regarding the human condition, concluding with the flippant descriptor, “It’s also about a dog show.” The evening’s weakest moment came mid-point when the pair enlisted the audience in wishing Meier’s mother a happy birthday via phone. Technical obstacles caused all momentum to come crashing to a halt.
Summary: In a genre that can feel dreary and limp, Gentle Temper circumvents this pitfall with craftsmanship, authenticity and charisma. Founded in 2016, they’ve already garnered a sizable slice of the spotlight, scoring a nomination for New Artist of the Year at the most recent Boston Music Awards as well as winning last July’s Lizard Lounge Main Event. It’s easy to picture these clever strumaholics enjoying much greater attention if technical skill bound up with honest songwriting and stunning vocalizations remain a valued commodity.