Livestream New York, NY
Players: Annie Keating, lead vocals, acoustic guitar; Teddy Kumpel, guitar, melodica, backing vocals; Richard Hammond, bass, backing vocals; Steve Williams, drums; Todd Caldwell, organ, backing vocals; Chris Tarrow, guitar, pedal steel; Kate Steinberg, tambourine, shaker, backing vocals
Material: This artist’s music references the likes of Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams, leaning more toward folk/Americana. Hosted by Bowery Electric, Annie Keating debuted her latest collection of songs, which comprise her new release, Bristol County Tides. The album is devoted to personal stories surrounding the pandemic’s effect on her life, a theme that has engendered a sea change in many of us. Proven in spades, we live each day with the potential that life will undoubtably throw us curve balls when we least expect it. The song “Nobody Knows” aptly sums this up: “And one thing that’s for sure/nothing's guaranteed/life’s a ride into uncertainty/and I don’t want to waste my time worrying about tomorrow/what tomorrow’s gonna bring nobody knows.”
Keating’s escape from Brooklyn during this past year took her to Bristol County, MA, (hence the album’s title), where she encountered folks willing to open their hearts and doors. “Kindred Spirit” captures this: “Kindred spirit/ it’s so nice to meet you/kindred spirit/words may lie but your eyes tell me the truth.” Overall, Keating’s recent creations weave a patchwork where personal issues dovetail with fallout from the virus.
Musicianship: Her gritty, alto voice is at times Dylanesque, and while it doesn’t project vulnerability, it reads authentic. Keating has assembled a band that reflects the nuances in the arrangements, whether it’s a simple guitar riff, or a pedal steel line. The band adeptly assist with backing vocals in addition to one singer solely designated for that task.
Performance: Keating presented a good example of how to pull off a streaming show in a club setting. Complete with good lighting and sound, she was also able to employ the same musicians who played on the album. Introducing each song with the right amount of backstory, Keating never gave away too much before singing it. Despite there being no live audience present, she deftly carried on as if they were, dividing her patter equally among the “virtual crowd” and casual sidebars with band members.
Summary: A seasoned performer, comfortable in her own skin, Keating uses the streaming platform to its fullest. She knows how to address an audience in absentia, maintaining that invisible line between performer and audience. Though not stylistically her demeanor, showing more of her vulnerable side would beef up the set even further.