Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Jose Gonzalez - Olof Arnalds -- 9:30 Club - Apr 7 2015

Olof Arnalds - Add the name Olof Arnalds to the ever lengthening list of Icelandic talent to find their way to the rest of the world. It is just her voice and acoustic guitar tonight, although she is an accomplished violinist as well. The guitar playing is quite good and she creates fine textures through a few different techniques. But the real star is the voice. She reminds me a lot of Jenny Sorrenti with the ability to chill and warm, nearly at the same time. It is both comforting and powerful and the songs resonate deeply. It is tough with a sold out crowd to bring just an acoustic guitar to the club, but Olof Arnalds succeeded and made a few new fans tonight, myself included.

Jose Gonzalez - Here is someone I have been following since his early solo albums, where it was fascinating to see somene from the hardcore punk scene create such fascinating and delicate folk music. He has put on several fine shows in DC as a solo artist and lately with his folky band Junip. I was not sure what we would get tonight, but was happy to see a full band comprised of a drummer, percussionist, keyboardist, and acoustic guitarist joining him. The keyboards were quite light and the percussion was smart and reserved through much of the set, leaving the two guitars to conjure up some melodic magic. There was also extensive use of three voices, which was a plus to cut through this large crowd. Although this crowd was quite attentive as they were fully into this music. And with a band that could up the tempo and acoustic guitar volume so carefully, it made for edge of the chair fascination. I can not quite say excitement, because his songs are like fragile artworks that you want to handle with care (and wonder). I think of him up there somwhere in between Jackson Frank and Nick Drake in style, and nearly in quality. It is always a pleasure to spend some time with the music of Jose Gonzalez.

The new issue of FolkWorld is online and features some reprints of folk shows I have reviewed in the area along with lots of other news from folk scenes around the world. The CD reviews are not quite up at this hour, but will be shortly.

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