Live review: You Tell Me with Odetta Hartman, CCA, Glasgow, Sat 2 Feb
- Lorna Irvine
- 4 February 2019
Moving and eccentric double bill of folk and Americana
Eccentric American musician Odetta Hartman, tonight performing with musician Alex Friedman, weaves her alchemical silvery Gothic threads from unexpected sources. She is both alluring siren and sea monster, her growling, yelping and keening vocals backed with Friedman's box of sonic tricks.
Songs from her second album Old Rockhounds Never Die showcase her gorgeous smoky voice and sinewy violin / banjo playing, and the murder ballad imagery is bent into new shapes through the use of laptop, choppy percussion, bells, drones and field recordings, inspired by musical historian Alan Lomax. 'Widow's Peak' quietly devastates, with its oceanic ebbs and flows, and 'Misery' shifts gears to ferocious effect. Mischief is never far away, and she is aware of attendant Americana clichés, which she sweeps under her long skirt, through covers of Amy Winehouse's 'Rehab' and a spirited 'Hound Dog', more Big Mama Thornton than Elvis; all to the good, then, and she manages to seduce a whole new audience in the process.
Meanwhile, You Tell Me, a sort-of indie supergroup consisting of Sarah Hayes from Admiral Fallow and Peter Brewis from Field Music, create chamber pop which is at once as delicate and durable as lace. Tonight, they are a quartet, though, and there are moments of angular pop not unlike Brewis' other band, in the shape of the post-punk / blue-eyed funk of 'Water Cooler' and 'Invisible Ink'. In the main, it's heart-stopping baroque that is elegant and bittersweet, thanks to Hayes' pure and crystal cut folky vocals, and the twitchy intimacy of her lyrics. The volte-face in beautiful single 'Clarion Call' when she sings, 'I can barely look after myself' sends palpable shivers through the room.
Brewis is of course no slouch in the harmonies either, and few things are, after all, sexier than a blurred female / male vocal. But they are a self-effacing bunch, and they can't resist airing a cover of Ivor Cutler's 'I Worn My Elbows' which really packs a punch, set to a not entirely faithful Bo Diddley rhythm. They are so endearing that it fits, too. Celtic Connections seems to have upped its game in championing unique sets from artists who wear their eclectic influences, as easily as they transcend them.