Material: Singer-songwriter Kris Angelis brought a collection of new songs from her recent EP, Pieces That Were Stolen. Musically, the live arrangements were consistent with her EP recordings, with the addition of a cellist, presenting a performance that was wholly immersed in the folk genre. Lyrics, however, are what set Angelis apart from the typical folk songwriter––and sometimes it works, and sometimes it decidedly does not. “Photobooth,” for example, is a definite risk lyrically, presenting an array of generic scenarios capped with a painfully cliché (albeit musically memorable) hook. “The Sparrow,” however, clicks completely––Angelis’ raw honesty and depth shines on all counts.
Musicianship: Angelis played acoustic guitar and sang with a smoothness that many a folk singer-songwriter aspires to. Her twin sister, Alix, and John Huertas on background vocals provided an authenticity to Kris’ raw folk sound. Those backgrounds and cello were the strongest part of the live ensemble, adding consistent support and richness to Kris’ vocals. Cellist Michelle Packman provided considerable harmonic and melodic support, playing lines and even looping toward the end of the set to create a huge, all-encompassing sound.
Performance: Playing to a packed house Angelis and her band kept the energy bouncing throughout the set. Her banter was shy but sweet, keeping the room. The arrangements were varied, with Huertas even jumping on a few duet vocals to add variety and space to the sound. The vocal arrangement on “Stained Glass” was definitely a highlight, with Wiley holding it down on drums and Packman doubling the vocal lines for a fantastic and unified sound from the band. Angelis’ lead vocals seemed to grow stronger as the night went on, but didn’t quite hold their own without Huertas and Alix in support.
Summary: Kris Angelis shows promise as a songwriter and performer. She engages her audience and is a risk-taking lyricist and arranger. Her new project shows significant growth and a shift in her artist career, bringing something exciting and new to the table. Although some of her songs require a second or third listen, Angelis’ determination and self-assurance take her a long way in both her writing and live performance.
The Hotel Cafe Hollywood, CA
Players: Kris Angelis, vocals, guitar; Alix Angelis, background vocals; Jon Huertas, background vocals; Michelle Packman, cello; Dana Bisignano, keys and bass; Charles Wiley, drums\