Juanita Stein at the Shacklewell Arms
Juanita Stein, of Howling Bells fame, has decided to break away from edgy indie with her solo project, and to show the world her other side with a record heavily influenced by idealistic Americana. Released in the summer, the obviously titled album – America – is full of lilting vocals and soft guitar twangs, which proves more than enough to evoke a classic American sound. However, as far as being an “ode to the dark heart” of the United States, as she has called this work in the past, the material does fall a little short.
That being said, Stein and her accompanying musicians gave a highly polished performance last night. The basement room of the Shacklewell Arms in which they played is small and cold, with murals covering the walls, and the crowd was just sparse enough so that everyone could see the stage. Even though each audience member was wrapped up against the chill, the singer-songwriter did her best to transport us to the dusty Deep South. The setlist included both old songs and new, and the artist’s claims that this was her first time performing with this band were hard to believe because throughout the entire show they played together beautifully.
While the tracks were all delivered with precision, Stein and the instrumentalists really shone when it came to the heavier numbers like Cool and The Night Is Young from Howling Bells’ self-titled debut album. These were perfect reprieves from all the gentle country-style melodies, which, while well crafted, offered little in the way of uniqueness or liveliness. Even though the material of America might not be wholly original, during last night’s performance Juanita Stein’s lovely voice filled the room, and every member of the band played their instruments effortlessly.
Photo: Rob Loud
For further information or to book visit the Juanita Stein website here.
Watch the video for Black Winds here: