by M. Lewis Barker
I really love house shows, so when I found out that Cody Taylor was throwing one, I knew I had to be there. Courtney Marie Andrews, who has recently been playing and singing with Jimmy Eat World is finishing up a 2-week tour with her bassist and able to come to Provo for a free show. Along with Mudbison‘s Spencer Russell, we were sure to be in for a soft, folky night.
We arrived late to Cody’s house. We walked in to a very cramped living room which had been cleared of all furniture save the stool where Russell sat. A couple dozen people were crowded on the floor, standing against the walls and in the hallway. The room was lit with candles and Christmas lights, decorated by abstract paintings. I’ve called house shows “intimate” in the past, but this took the word to a new level.
We caught Mr. Russell’s last two songs. It was my first time seeing him perform. His solo music is light but well written, and his fantastic guitar skills helped liven up what could have been a dull set. It is far from my favorite style of music. But I enjoy a good performance. Some louder vocals would do a lot to color his songs, but the man has a fantastic, albeit quiet, voice. He speaks that way too, so he could insult my mother and threaten my life but I would still think him the nicest guy in the world.
Courtney Marie Andrews
When he finished, we all had to scoot up the front to make more space and allow others to sit down. I was able to sit in the very front, between Ms. Andrews and her bassist Matt. I spent most of it looking at Courtney’s hands, as she can finger pick the guitar as fine as anyone. Courtney and Matt’s greatest strength is their ability to arrange their music in a consistently interesting and intelligent way. The songs may sound monotonous at first, but they avoid repetition. The guitar and bass are complex. Courtney can sing very well, but she (and dozens if not hundreds of other vocalists these days) tries to sound too much like a watered down Joanna Newsom which is not her natural voice. I don’t care for hearing “love” pronounced with the long O. I think we should be proud of our own voices and pronunciations and not seek to imitate the current trend. It’s a small complaint, but it detracts from her originality.
I’ve known Cody awhile now and seen him perform so many times that I feel silly “reviewing” him. I’ve even performed with him before. Cody and I often disagree on what makes good music. (I am incapable of liking metal.) But the man writes some great songs and puts more emotion into his sets than anyone else in Provo. The highlight of the evening was the crowd singing along to Cody’s rendition of Gary Jules’ rendition of “Mad World”. Cody has an album coming out in March, and he will (hopefully) be playing with a band that show. His strengths really come out when he arranges music, thanks to his metal background.
I enjoyed the night and found myself never bored which came as a big surprise as I am very sick of the indie folk scene in Provo. But all three acts can write original music and know how to play their instruments. It was a very successful house show, and I hope that Courtney and Matt were able to sell enough CDs to pay for gas to Pheonix.
Go to house shows. They are great.
And don’t forget to check out Chance Lewis, Michael Barker *ahem*, and Tahsha Kofford at the Pig Pen (Pleasant Grove High School) tomorrow night. It’s only $2 and is worth almost every cent.