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Lael Neale At Resident DTLA, Thursday September 15th 2015


Lael Neale


I have seen Lael Neale a few times, and each time I almost forgot what an amazing voice she has, it’s already lovely when you listen to her record, but live, her voice becomes something else, a pure beauty that hit me once again when I was watching her doing a too short set at Resident downtown LA on Thursday night. Listening to her live is a rare treat, she brings with her music a soothing calm and serenity, mixed with an authentic nostalgia, something difficult to accomplish, that she seems to achieve effortlessly.

Her voice is not only crystalline but it has a very interesting range and a vintage quality, that immediately captivates the crowd while bringing in mind the heights of some of my favorite singers, from Aimee Mann (Lael even covered Bacharach’s ‘Don’t Make me Over’, Aimee’s favorite) to Joan Baez or even recent sensation Angel Olsen. Just like Olsen, Leal is able to express vulnerability while nuancing many emotions in a very short amount of time. Meanwhile, the folksy storytelling of her songs has sometimes a countrish accent but always subtle and delicate pop melodies she executed flawlessly on Thursday night.

In a way, the soft-spoken Virginia native composes very Californian Music, evoking the great folk classics of the 70s, singing about summer, only to mention its ineluctable end,… and the emotion in her voice or the ascending melancholy in a guitar chord made me wish she would work with Jon Brion! She certainly belongs to that musical family of singer songwriters letting the melancholia slowly escapes from the peaceful setting of a song, while something deeper and darker is constantly lurking in the corner.

On Thursday night, She played alone with her guitar, stripping down her beautiful songs (some of her debut album ‘I’ll be your Man’) before being joined on stage by a musician who added up subtle arrangements. Some people can absolutely captivate an audience without being loud, but behind the calm, there is a lot going on, heavy hearts and heartbreaks, loneliness, loss and regrets all revealed by Lael’s vocal prowess, and her eyes, which always seem to be sad and resigned

It’s still a mystery to me how such a young and pretty woman has found so much inspiration in sadness, why wouldn’t she possibly find happiness with this tall and statuesque silhouette, long blond hair and piercing blue eyes? But that’s not how Lael sees things, she finds sadness in beauty, just as Nick Cave (my current obsession) manages to find little pieces of paradise in profound distress, that may well be the sign of true artists who can reveal things invisible to us. But there’s also a dreamy element in her music. and she was singing her serene-sad songs as if she was daydreaming all her stories, while looking at the audience with her attentive pale blue eyes.

I Lit a Fire
Black Boots
I Would Rather Die Alone
The Wraith
White T-shirt
The Avenues
Don’t Make Me Over (Bacharach cover)


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