Frankie, who might, it occurs to me, have been spending a little too much time in pretentiously arty Berlin, where she resides, on the strength of this uncharacteristically too-cool-by-half set, nonetheless delivered, once again, a string of her superb (if, by her own somewhat self-mocking admission, overwhelmingly depressing) songs. Perhaps she’d succumbed to a cold (it was an evening fit for sniffles), jetlag, or was as tired as her pallid complexion tended to indicate, but her normally thunderous vocal projection was toned-down and laid almost all the way back. Then again, perhaps she was just adjusting her performance for the small space and audience. Perhaps she’s jaded with performing her own songs, night after night. Whatever. The result was playful, subtle, restrained, almost seething, slightly ‘dangerous’ takes on her own material and one has to applaud such risk-taking. There is art in it and the pain in her songs was made yet more palpable. Moreover, noone could question that Frankie is a slightly to very unpredictable, enigmatic performer.
Lucie Thorne, according to her website, is Melbourne-based, but her Nowra fans, at least, know better. She and her musical companions breathe the fresh country air freely available in the Bega Valley; Candelo, or thereabouts, to be precise.
That such a tight, sophisticated sound should come out of such a backwater says more about my urban arrogance, no doubt, than the contemporary realities of bucolic bliss, but you get my drift. The converse is that, lyrically, Thorne is unabashed (and good on her) in writing about carefully-observed and faithfully documented, or imagined, small-town subjects, like a girl in a video store. This makes for captivating, charming, intensely humane, fragile songs, performed with sublime sensitivity by, especially, her collaborator, lead guitarist and backing vocalist, Heath Cullen but, no less, her bassist (and well-matched backing vocalist), Robyn Martin and empathic drummer, Jay McMahon.
The Upfield Line hones in, beautifully, on what I’m getting at.
Coming home, from three weeks on the road
I'll walk the two blocks from the station
Smile with anticipation and
I'll be tired, excitable and wired
There'll be spaghetti on the stove
and Motown on the stereo and
You’ll dance me ’round the kitchen
And out into the hall
I will press you up against
My body and the wall
Love, it comes in close
Love, it comes and goes
Love, it comes in close.
What poem could be more elegant, universal or warmly accessible?
This is the style and content which pervades and infuses her performance.
The muted guitar fusion between Cullen & Thorne is something to behold and is picked up by the other band members, making for a cohesive sound which puts me in mind of, say, the great Bonnie Raitt, via, even, the sultry Chris Isaak’s bler stylings. For those of us who’ve only just discovered this polished gem has been recording for a good ten years, the poverty of our ignorance is almost too much to bear. Thorne well understands the power, romance and magic that lies in what is simple, everyday and even mundane. That which is right under our nose, but which we can so rarely see, obscured, as it so often is, by the migraine-inducing glare of vacuous celebrity. Lucie, her songs & presentation are a tonic!
Venue: The Tea Club Café | 46 Berry Street, Nowra
Date: Saturday 19th April @ 7.30pm