Isn't it romantic
Folk, pop and new-wave veteran Lauren Agnelli shows off her way with a classic, unabashedly sentimental tune.
By DAWN EDEN
Followers of New York City's underground pop and folk scenes will
recognize Laurenelli as one Lauren Agnelli, formerly of Grammy-nominated
folk-rockers the Washington
Squares and, before that, cute new-wavers Nervus Rex. More recently,
she's released two albums as one-half of the exceedingly tuneful Agnelli &
Rave, Rave being former Teenage
Head leader Dave "Rave" DesRoches. She is known for her exquisite voice,
delicate pop songwriting, and musical abilities (bass, guitar, accordion)
that make her far more than your garden variety "chick singer."
With Laurenelli, Agnelli has finally hit upon a concept that best
displays her talents. Under that guise, she presents a side of herself that
few have seen (unless they've picked up the albums she made with Texas
retroheads Brave Combo): the
chanteuse. Backed by a small, muted band, she sings originals mixed with
tunes by Edith Piaf, Francoise Hardy, and the like. She also mines the
great American songbook with Tin Pan Alley classics such as "Falling In
Love Again" and "Hi-Lilli Hi-Lo" (both of which were, incidentally, also
recorded by ex-Animal Alan Price, a fact which Agnelli could very well
know, given her deep knowledge of 20th-century pop).|
What sets Laurenelli apart from the Losers Lounge crowd and other
performers mining a similar vein is that her delivery is irony-free.
Instead of distancing herself from the idealistic concept of romance that
her material epitomizes, she bathes in it. She knows that the songs were
written to touch people, not make them snicker.
She also has a voice that can pull off Piaf. Her tone is very similar to
Francoise Hardy's, as Hardy aficionados will notice in her rendering of the
songstress's obscure "I Would Change My Life." In terms of emotion, she is
capable of projecting both grown-up strength and little-girl vulnerability.
Much of the entertainment in her shows is in witnessing her vacillate
between the two.
|OCTOBER 21, 1999|
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