Nataly Dawn/Lauren O’Connell ~ A Review

Lauren O’Connell doing a soundcheck at The Slipper Room (Photo courtesy of Julia Nunes) laurenoconnellsndchkNYC1

Nataly Dawn
Lauren O’Connell
The Slipper Room
Lower East Side, Manhattan, NYC
Wed, March 27th, 2013

The Slipper Room, with its quasi-burlesque atmosphere and perhaps the tiniest stage I’ve ever seen big names performing on (I’ve done grade-school performances on bigger stages), was the venue where singer-songwriters Nataly Dawn (Pomplamoose) and Lauren O’Connell did their 2-night NY stand on a current U.S. tour together.

Lauren O’Connell made her entrance with barely a reaction from the audience (I know the sound of 2 hands clapping is not totally celebratory, but I was happy to be the one that provided it because her appearance, for me, is celebratory), but by the time she settled in and gave this barroom-sized crowd her music and her charm as a performer, she successfully won them over. With an old acoustic guitar and singing in a purely crisp Americana voice that recalls Emmylou Harris, Lauren O’Connell did some great live renditions of her current standard repertoire such as “Oncoming Traffic”, “White Noise”, “I Will Burn You Down”, “I Belong To You” (sung with fellow songster Ryan Lerman, who is along on this tour with them), and “Chicken Wire” (with a surprise appearance by Julia Nunes, a close friend and colleague of both O’Connell and Dawn). I have to say that my greatest take-away from having seen Lauren performing live in person is watching her body language as a performer–Something very free and natural about the partial twist or two-step that her leg tends to do while singing and playing. It’s not a distraction by any means (certainly not any more than Elton John raising his right-handed eyebrow when he performs), but I can’t help but adore seeing that.
Being as engaged as I am in Lauren’s songbook, I sang/hummed along to the dismay of a patron in front of me.

Patron: “Are you going to sing along with Nataly’s set too?”; Me: “I might”; Patron: “Please don’t!”

natalydawnryanlermannycsndchkAfter an intermission, Nataly Dawn (along with Ryan Lerman again, this time assisting Nataly for her entire set) made her entrance, and hearing her music up against Lauren’s is interesting in that by comparison Nataly’s original acoustic rep has more of a country swing vibe. Performing mostly songs from her newly-released debut solo CD How I Knew Her, Nataly Dawn was amazing to see live, and it was definitely a pleasure to see how great she is even away from the trappings of those well-produced and edited video clips for YouTube that she is heavily associated with. There were many great moments of humorous banter about a variety of things such as the songs themselves (aided rather well by Ryan–after they played “Back To The Barracks” he joked that his arm still hurts from getting shot) and about the group being stopped at the border in Canada earlier in the week (Lauren also joked about this in her set stating that she thinks “they’ve probably never heard our albums”). My favorite Nataly Dawn moment was hearing her tear into a cover of Queen’s “Play The Game”, doing the song straight and managing to keep it very true to her identity.

For the encores, Nataly asked Lauren to return to the stage for them to do “The Daylight Here” and “When I Decide” in their only appearance during the show as the duo My Terrible Friend (I was sort of under the impression the primary set of these shows was going to be the 2 performers as the duo, but 2 or 3 songs as the duo is better than none), and then as a really nice parting shot they (along with Ryan Lerman) performed a cover of “Sixteen Tons”, before which Lauren told the crowd they’d heard it on Mad Men.

A great ending to a fabulous night of indie folk music from these truly gifted musicians that will always have a great presence and home on both the stage and the internet.

Nataly Dawn (natalydawn.tumblr.com)
Lauren O’Connell (laurenoconnell.com)

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