Lulu Simon At Resident, Thursday June 24th 2021
I don’t know what happened to Harper Simon, Paul Simon’s son. After releasing two albums in 2010 and 2013 and playing a series of shows – I saw him a few times in LA – he has kept a low profile. Despite his participation in some albums – for example, he plays on Lady Gaga’s ‘Joanne’ – he seems to have more or less disappeared from the music scene. Music stars’ offspring never do too well in the music business, can you even imagine the pressure to be Paul Simon’s kid? Can you imagine being constantly measured to your parents’ career whether your last name is Simon, or Lennon, or McCartney, or Harrison, or Taylor, or Nelson… It’s an impossible task. Still, many of them give it a try no matter what will or will never happen. Lulu Simon is the second Simon kid who is trying to make a name for herself, and I saw her playing a short set yesterday night, during a Breaking Sound session at the Resident, showcasing emerging young artists.
Lulu looks like a natural on stage, she was very at ease, while her performance seemed to be mixing a certain vulnerability with real sincerity. With two parents in the music business – she is also the daughter of Edie Brickell – she has obviously grown up in the right environment for a music career, although we can endlessly debate the nature versus nurture question in these situations.
But Lulu has a sweet voice and a bubbly personality, her explosive and full-hearted pop songs had guitar solos, elastic bass lines, vibrant melodies, and dynamic drumming, as she was backed up by three musicians, on guitar, drums, bass, and keyboard. After a few minutes, it was obvious to see where she was going: Lulu doesn’t make dull music or has not chosen to play one of these sad girls with a guitar. She visibly picked a somewhat different direction than her half-brother Harper, as her music was sparkling like some ‘80s synth-pop with a new spin.
‘I am Lulu,’ she simply said as an introduction. In 2019, she independently released her self-titled debut EP, which she produced with her brother Ade (yes, another Simon kid, her sibling Adrian) and Andy Seltzer (Chelsea Cutler, Maggie Rogers). She has been compared to Carly Rae Jepsen by Rolling Stone, and it’s hardly difficult to see why.
Her outfit and makeup were all pink and glitter, while her white platform boots were making her a bit taller than she really was. The set was both dreamy and dramatic, her sensitive and emotional pop had plenty of cathartic moments, the music was only releasing good vibes all around, while her passionate delivery was punctuated by big drums and bold synth lines.
If she got emotional it was always with a big smile on her face, a smile that rarely left her face during the set, and if there was drama behind her dynamic songs, the vibe stayed joyful and light all set long. ‘I encourage you to shake your ass,’ she said before a cover, the reggae fusion ‘Stars are Blind,’ recorded by Paris Hilton. Did I say pink and glitter?
‘Until I Do’ had all the teasing drama you can think of a relationship that could go sour, and she sang the lines with a sweet voice over plaintive synths: ‘Cause it’s forever/Until forever’s over/And I’ll never leave you/Until I do, ooh-ooh/Perfect together/Until it all goes to shit.’ After the song, Lulu gave us a taste of what family discussions can sound like among a family of songwriters: Her mother Edie Brickell told her she loved the song ‘except for that [goes to shit], you have to change it’ … ‘Mum, I am 26’ replied Lulu while her famous father gave her a ‘that’s jarring!’ comment. ‘We kept it,’ Lulu admitted with the determination of a woman who knows what she wants for her art. ‘How to be Alone’ had a very cute hook and the melodious oooo-ooo-ooo-ooo in the chorus could have been the only thing that vaguely made me think about her famous father’s music.
She ended her set with ‘Strangers,’ another ‘80s-tinged almost-sad dancefloor just released last year, and if she put all her heart in her singing, it was always wrapped with plenty of energy.
I can’t imagine the pressure of being a Simon/Brickell kid, and writing songs. However, Lulu Simon’s uplifting set was written in bold pink letters and sprinkled with the same glitter that was brightening her cheekbones.