Monday, February 22, 2010

Elsa Cross Live Review

Barley Pub // Dover, NH // February 7, 2010

Elsa Cross should have been touring with Johnny Cash during his American Recordings days. Unfortunately, he’s long gone and folks prefer to hang onto the past sometimes rather than dare take a step into the future. So, instead of touring with Cash, Elsa is playing a tiny stage with no sound man in Dover, New Hampshire…for now.

The set began with some technical difficulties which were no big deal thanks to her attitude about it. It’s hard to be upset about waiting for something when the person you are waiting for is so thoughtful about it.

She dove right into ‘The Burden’, off of her first album Unavailable and barely slowed down from there except for a mid-set break about 45 minutes in. Her choice of covers was impeccable, Ernest Tubb, obscure Johnny Cash, vintage Dwight Yoakam. Her sound walking the line between old time country (thanks to her voice), and rockabilly. Eddie Spaghetti and The Reverend Horton Heat would both fall in love with this woman.

Even with a talented band backing her, the two main instruments are her voice and her guitar. Her voice, which was all over the place, hitting highs and lows, carrying songs with almost no music, even daring to yodel, is what makes her show special. It isn’t that her more American (and occasionally) Dolores O'Riordan-sounding voice is flawless, it’s that it flawlessly goes with her music. One without the other might be average, the two together is terrific.

Elsa went through twenty songs, playing almost her entire first album, and playing a couple as of yet unnamed ones from her forthcoming album, which she recorded at opener Jon Nolan’s Milltown Recording Company in Newmarket, NH.

The closest you are going to get to Nashville in New Hampshire is wherever Elsa Cross is playing.