The Players: Amy Regan, vocals, acoustic guitar; Oscar Bautista, lead guitar; Eshy Gazit, bass; Adam Christgau, drums.
Material: Just when it seemed there were no good songwriters anymore, Amy Regan comes along to dispel that notion. With seemingly nary a "hook" in sight (or perhaps earshot) she makes her case with a lyrical maturity belying her apparent youth. Historical shades of Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro and surprisingly, yes - Crystal Gayle, are combined effortlessly into a unique "Reganesque" style of pop, folk, rock and cool jazz which is remarkably pleasant to listen to. As for those "hits?" Well... they are there, in fact, closer attention reveals subtle refrains incorporated into songs such as, "Everybody Needs Somewhere To Go," and, "Carry On." Listeners will feel that Amy doesn't need to hit them over the head with repetition, because she respects their intelligence and attention span.
Musicianship: Regan's voice is beautifully pure with a piercing high end that she saves for special moments. Her low end may be a little thin, but it was rarely used and might have been stronger with warming up. Her piano playing was adequate, but her acoustic guitar playing was impressive, considering her small hands, and the complexity of the chord-work. The backup band were superbly professional in their ability to stay out of her way. Eshy Gazit's funky bass lines on the opener, "Come In Real Close," locked nicely with Adam Christgau's solid groove, and both men were always flexibly appropriate to the material at hand. Oscar Bautista also remained pretty much in the background, keeping his electric guitar solos short and soft, but supplying some very tasteful licks and textures to support his singer.
Performance: It's always nice to hear a set of music that is constantly changing and full of surprises. And a singer-songwriter who can deliver a country shuffle such as "Carry On," or a jazzy feeling love song to the Big Apple, "I Love New York," and then suddenly switch off to a light samba ballad like "Nighttime Bird," can supply just such a set - specially when supported by three fine musicians who know just what to put in... and what to leave out. And that is exactly what these four did at the Rockwood Music Hall on September 22nd.
Maybe they shouldn't have ended the evening with a brand new song. "Get Moving" was the weakest number in the set, but that could be more a testament to high quality of the rest of the material. All in all, the cheers from the packed audience suggested that they were fully satisfied with the band's performance that night.
Summary: Amy Regan is a young but fully developed new artist who is perfectly capable of keeping an audience's attention when performing solo, with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, yet who can hold her own as the front man of a four piece ensemble. Her album, "And Then There Is This," shows a bit of both those sides, and is a pretty good representation of the live show. She appears to have the personality and the focus to succeed in a business where simple talent is often not enough.
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