Live Review: Tanner Usrey

El Rey Theatre  Los Angeles, CA

Contact: [email protected]

Web: site.tannerusreymusic.com

Material: Opening with his trademark gravelly country sound and gorgeous vocal timbre, Tanner Usrey played to an excited, happy crowd in a 30-minute set in Los Angeles (opening for Ian Munsick). “Come Back Down” brought a warm, vocal feel to ease into the set, with “Til The Morning Light” bringing punchier vocals and lyrics (including the line “You’re trouble with a Bible verse tattoo. I know you read about me and you know that I’m bad news”), stronger projection, beautiful bluesy melismas, and some more upbeat strumming. 

Musicianship: A down-to-earth demeanor made for an easy-to-invest-in show. Usrey has the songwriting goods, and a straightforward approach to the guitar, while bringing a unique vocal sound and feel to his singing, with a gentle country vibrato and great breath control. Melodic new ballad, “Who I am” shared great octave leaps and storytelling with lyrics, “self-destruction at best” and “do you like the way I make you feel…or just the way I sing?” Syrupy ballad, “Last Goodbye” added melancholy, while “Josephine” revealed fuller, rounder vocal tone and invitational storytelling with lyrics, “her veins they look like tracks all across her skin; she used to be an angel, but she traded that for sin.”

Performance: Having garnered millions of streams on Spotify following the release of 2019’s Medicine Man (“Come Back Down” and “Beautiful Lies” have reached almost 20 million streams each), 2021 brought the release of the SÕL Sessions EP (with “The Light” added to the Season 4 finale of Yellowstone). Usrey’s raw songwriting and lowkey, approachable attitude create a fun, engaging show atmosphere.

Summary: Show closer “Beautiful Lies” added lovely phrasing and control, highlighted with a long-held, emphatic vibrato note. Delivering relatable, transparent lyrics, like “Oh, I won’t beg you to stay, I guess you wouldn’t anyway. … I know you’re leaving, walking out that door, and I can see the heartbreak in your eyes,” he subtly commands attention from the audience. Between tales of heartbreak and addiction, deception, love, lust, loss, and redemption, Usrey’s vocals are gritty and soulful, and he is refreshingly direct in his lyrics and presence.

Photo by Josh Beech