Amy Fairchild provides classic-rock pleasure
Amy Fairchild provides classic-rock pleasures (Club Helsinki, Feb. 28, 2002)
by Seth Rogovoy
(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass., March 1, 2002) – Celebrating the release of her terrific new album, “Mr. Heart,” Amy Fairchild led her band through two sets of her well-crafted pop-rock songs at Club Helsinki on Thursday night.
Fairchild’s show was a tonic for those wondering what ever happened to intelligent rock music with instantly catchy melodies, rhythms made for dancing, and lyrics that say something and scan to boot. That Fairchild had the crowd dancing for most of her show, and that the audience was eager to hear her play some of her best songs twice, was a tribute to the classic-rock pleasures she and her band afforded.
Fairchild found common ground among Lilith Fair-style folk-pop, roots-based rock of Sheryl Crow and Tom Petty, and modern rock of R.E.M. and Beck, on songs like “Beautiful Secret,” which the band performed in radio-ready fashion, and “Falling Down,” colored by producer/guitarist Adam Steinberg’s Rickenbacker electric. Steinberg, a great guitar stylist, painted “Mr. Heart” with Mark Knopfler-like licks on his Fender, and trippy, George Harrison-like sitaresque slide guitar on “Everyone’s In Love With You.”
While her band, including Phil Antoniades on drums, Jeff St. Pierre on bass and Matt Cullen on second electric guitar, powered her through much of the evening, Fairchild, who played acoustic guitar throughout, was the focus of attention. Her clear voice combined qualities of midwestern, heartland innocence and east coast, urban experience – a native of suburban Chicago, she grew up in Connecticut, attended college in Northampton, and now calls New York home.
It all showed in her music, ranging from the cinematic, Greenwich Village street scenes of “Movie” to the retro-rockabilly of “Shade of Blue,” which made this listener wish Roy Orbison was still alive if only to hear him sing this song.
In addition to her well-crafted melodies, full of hooks and bridges, Fairchild is a gifted lyricist, and she knows how to drop key catch-phrases into her songs for listeners to hang onto. “Never bite off more than you can chew,” “There’s no telling truth from treason,” “I can’t remember what I wanted to forget” – all functioned as verbal equivalents of the hooks that made one song after the other instantly catchy and recognizable.
Fairchild also has a gift for fronting intimacy without self-indulgence, even on several tunes she did in solo acoustic arrangements, including “Tuesday,” a touching slice of life from 9/11. Her open, clear voice can go from conversational song-speak to quiet yearning to full-fledged soul shouting without affectation. She’s neither victim nor arrogant seducer. She is, rather, the sort of performer that pop music needs, now more than ever.
[This review originally appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on March 1, 2002. Copyright Seth Rogovoy 2002. All rights reserved.]
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