Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Show Review - Alex Winston - 3/6/11 - Brillobox - Concert Review - Live Review

I have the feeling that Sunday was the last chance we will have to see Alex Winston in a club the size of Brillobox. She’s just too good. She has it all. Captivating stage presence. Enthusiasm. Self-written songs with hooks and emotion in her songs. Backup singers (her “sister wives”) who, once seen in a live setting, add oomph to her songs and do proud to their Detroit-hometown tradition of Motown stage singers. Most importantly, Winston has a tremendous voice.

She and her band played a relatively short set, as she has yet to release a full-length album. Winston has released a handful of cover songs, and ended the night Sunday with an excellent Rod Stewart cover. Who doesn’t love Rod Stewart? In late February she released her first collection of original songs on the Sister Wife album, and this is her first short tour since its release. Winston played all the instruments on her recordings, but live she devotes herself to moving about the stage, into the crowd, and shaking her tambourine. She did pick up the acoustic guitar and play “Don’t care about anything,” a slow folk ballad, alone on stage. The sister wives really add to the show. As Winton mentioned in her interview here, they are all close friends and it shows in their onstage chemistry.

The takeaway point from Sunday night is just how good she is live, which I both expected and was still surprised by. Her original songs “Choice Notes,” “Locomotive,” and “Sister Wife” are great songs, but every one of them sounds better live than on the recording. This is a testament to her song writing and her natural voice. It is also an indictment of the production of her Sister Wife album, by New York producers The Knocks. Looking over live reviews of Winston in the past month, nearly 5 in 10 will make a specific point of how much better she sounds live. Her live sessions on the internet are better. The Knocks, whose name is tossed around with the likes of Big Boi, Rihanna and Ellie Goulding, seem to have gone about business as usual with Winston’s record and (shudder) “overproduced” the sound. I am sold on Winston as a talent. She just signed to Island Records in the UK. I’ll keep listening to Sister Wife because I the songs are so catchy, but I demand a more natural and authentic sound out of her next record. That being the case, we’ll see her blow up big in the next year.
--Daniel Hammer