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Brenda Carsey With Triona O’Neill, Christina Apostolopoulos, And Jessica Gerhardt At The Moroccan Lounge, Sunday, June 12th, 2022

Brenda Carsey
Brenda Carsey

On Sunday night, the Moroccan Lounge had an amazing lineup of female singer-songwriters headlined by LA’s own Brenda Carsey. Four women successively charmed and captivated the crowd with different styles but an equal amount of talent.

Triona O’Neill’s ravishing vocals were already floating in the venue when I arrived: the show had barely started and the Irish singer-songwriter was performing accompanied by an acoustic guitar, light orchestration, and backup harmonies. Her remarkably pure vocals were at the center of her entire set, a collection of melancholic love ballads and sweet lullabies, such as “Little One,” a song visibly about a newborn. Born in Ireland, Triona has now settled down in LA and has already shared the stage with other UK artists such as Laura Marling. On Sunday night, she had a captivating presence, and I couldn’t help but notice the song “Till The End,” a particularly catchy and melodic number that sounded a bit like an early-Angel-Olsen country-inspired classic. With her soaring vocals, she had no problem covering Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” with grace and ease, although it was certainly not an easy thing to do, and there was overall a lot of soulfulness and an old-school vibe in her performance, even when she invited the public to double harmonize along with her song “Haven’t Got a Title Yet.” Meanwhile, her last tune, “Still Point,” had a jazzy breezy vibe, evolving into a light tune giving her beautiful vibrato another occasion to fly high with a few vocal prowess.

The second artist of this all-women showcase was Christina Apostolopoulos, a Los Angeles singer-songwriter born in Toronto and raised in Santa Barbara, with a sweet voice and an eclectic but personal style. Her great guitar technique touched the right emotive chords in each song, while her two backup singers harmonized with greatness, and even added a folksy harmonica line during a song. Christina is also a storyteller — one of her songs was about her car being stolen but told from the perspective of the thief — while a more upbeat tune, “Satellite” was an homage to the beloved LA venue that has become a casualty of the pandemic. She knew how to showcase her great melodies, channeling Laurel Canyon harmonies and the heritage of the ‘70s generation with an alt-indie modern twist. With early musical influences such as Jackson Browne and Paul Simon, it is not difficult to understand why some of her songs had a folksy alt-country style, sounding like something from Emmylou Harris with Crosby Stills & Nash harmonies and a melancholic appeal, reaching the crowd’s sweet spot. However, her set was diverse enough and ended with a bluesy one with an ear-ringing guitar solo and sultry vocals à la Ricky Lee Jones.

Next was Jessica Gerhardt and her band “the Gerhardt-breakers,” she said with a large smile. Her ukulele-infused songs were filled with a passionate delivery coming from her emotive vocals and the contributions of her many musicians. On some songs, you could detect a yearning in her vocals, while on other ones, her voice was soaring over poignant pop-rock soundscapes (“Aquarius”). The self-explanatory “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself” had a more cabaret-style delivery with stabbing keys and orchestration with a vague Jon Brion vibe. Jessica had also a very composed way to explain her songs between the music that often emanated spirituality and a serein inner peace… this could not have been more obvious with one of her songs: “Responsorial Palms 139.”

Contrarily to all other women who had already performed, Brenda Carsey played the keyboard during her entire set. She was celebrating the release of her new single “Just Trying To Do My Thing,” a sweet R&B/soul ballad, and her eclectic set of pop-funk and soul became a buoyant affair, quite different from the acoustic guitar mini-concert she had performed at a friend’s house during the pandemic. Her R&B-tainted powerhouse shone from song to song while she stabbed her keys with passion and perfect execution, with the help of Michael Day on guitar, Nick Campbell on bass, and Jose Perez on drums. Such versatility is without any doubt the sign of an accomplished artist, and this time, she had decided to deliver a very engaging high-energy performance. Her songs were delivered with an inhibited intensity and fervor, big hooks, and an impressive range. Her elastic voice, completed by two backup singers (Kai and Brianna Ibarra) who were beautifully harmonizing, was often soaring above intricate and melodic arrangements, surprising chord progressions, and funky rhythms. The extremely prolific songstress has already released 6 albums, and many singles while she has been part of the LA scene for quite some time. With such talent on displayyou must wonder why she hasn’t blown up at a national level, but the music business is always a mystery to me. She closed her set with a dynamic cover of the Ashford & Simpson’s funk-soul classic “California Soul,” which perfectly fit the tone of her own eclectic blend. Brenda also announced an upcoming show at the Hotel Café at the end of July, and there’s no reason to miss this fierce neo-soul siren who simply wants to do her thing.Brenda CarseyContrarily to all other women who had already performed, Brenda Carsey played the keyboard during her entire set. She was celebrating the release of her new single “Just Trying To Do My Thing,” a sweet R&B/soul ballad, and her eclectic set of pop-funk and soul became a buoyant affair, quite different from the acoustic guitar mini-concert she had performed at a friend’s house during the pandemic. Her R&B-tainted powerhouse shone from song to song while she stabbed her keys with passion and perfect execution, with the help of Michael Day on guitar, Nick Campbell on bass, and Jose Perez on drums. Such versatility is without any doubt the sign of an accomplished artist, and this time, she had decided to deliver a very engaging high-energy performance. Her songs were delivered with an inhibited intensity and fervor, big hooks, and an impressive range. Her elastic voice, completed by two backup singers (Kai and Brianna Ibarra) who were beautifully harmonizing, was often soaring above intricate and melodic arrangements, surprising chord progressions, and funky rhythms. The extremely prolific songstress has already released 6 albums, and many singles while she has been part of the LA scene for quite some time. With such talent on displayyou must wonder why she hasn’t blown up at a national level, but the music business is always a mystery to me. She closed her set with a dynamic cover of the Ashford & Simpson’s funk-soul classic “California Soul,” which perfectly fit the tone of her own eclectic blend. Brenda also announced an upcoming show at the Hotel Café at the end of July, and there’s no reason to miss this fierce neo-soul siren who simply wants to do her thing.

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