SINGER AND SONGWRITER Emily Arin is one of the most talented solo artists to emerge in Ithaca in recent years. With a plaintive and delicate voice, she weaves tales that examine, in her words “the heavy graces of being human.”
“White Heat,” from her 2007 the self-released “Time and Space,” burns soft and warm like a kerosene lantern in winter. Her talent is on par with early Gillian Welch, Jana Hunter and Nina Nastasia, and her oeuvre ranges from the country sing-a-long “You Won My Heart Outright” to the haunting ballad “Waltz for Spalding Gray.” Though she writes with the precision of a sociologist, the lyrics also broaden to an almost philosophical investigation and an inspiring vision of the human condition.
This month, Arin releases “Patch of Land,” a collection of eleven tracks that are a revelation. Whether autobiographical songs of love and longing, or third person waltzes and ballads (as in “Sweetly Breathe” or her transfixing meditation on Gray), Arin’s inventiveness with language and melody once again hold court. “Songwriting for me is a process of distillation,” she reports. “My aim is to repeatedly filter an idea and emotion to form an honest vehicle for sharing life’s poignancy, playfulness and mystery.”
Arin moved to Philadelphia earlier this year — surely a boon to the city of brotherly love, but a great loss for our local music scene — but she returns this week for two performances in the area. The first will be this Friday in her hometown of Montour Falls, and then next month, on Sunday, February 13, Arin will stop by Felicia’s.
Though she is a lovely and self-possessed solo performer, Friday night Arin will be joined by four talented musicians, Brian Dozoretz, Peter Glanville and Joe Novelli Zug Thompson. “It’s much more fun to play with the support of handsome men,” she said. But, with all their full schedules and traveling lifestyles, I know I can’t play every show with them. So, playing solo is good practice — you can’t hide behind the great musicians playing with you — there’s level of honesty and confidence you have to try to tap into to connect with the audience.”
Emily Arin performs The Harvest Café Friday, January 20, 2011. The $15 cover includes a copy of the album. Beer, wine and a homemade pizza buffet will be available at The Harvest Cafe. Door opens at 5:30 p.m. Show starts at 8:00 p.m.
Also this weekend:
If the winter chill is keeping you from trekking to Mountour Falls, fear not. Harley Campbell, best known for the Finnish, Tex-Mex and old-time hybrid Toivo, spent more than a decade in the Hotmud Family, a traditional country band. From 1970 to 1983, the Dayton, Ohio group traveled the highways, low roads, backwaters and mountaintops of America performing in taverns, clubs, festivals and concert halls. Now, they’ve re-released their early albums, and will perform songs from them this week. Joined by John Hoffman, Stefan Senders, Dave Davies and Annie Campbell. (5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20 at Felicia’s).
For almost two decades — give or take — Dowd has made music that is as uncompromising as it is groundbreaking. Early albums like Pictures from Life’s Other Side channeled Hank Williams through a backwoods and backwards experimentalism — sounding both subversive and scintillating. And while no one would ever call 2010’s “Wake Up the Snakes,” Dowd’s most recent record an easy listen, the album may be his most accessible yet. His newest project with Billy Cote is called Presents Songs for Lovers, an outfit that offers interpretations of songs from Sinatra to John Lee Hooker. Catch Dowd with the Tin Teardrops, another new project in which he joins Mike Cook (Rocket Morton) and Alan Pauling (10:00 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22 at the Chapter House).
Goatboy: Old Time supergroup with half of The Horse Flies and half of Evil City String Band (7:00 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 23 at Felicia’s).