Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, Tall Firs

Emily Haines & Soft Skeleton - Doctor Blind

Those are the individuals I spent last evening with, and what an evening it was!

David and I have been going to see Emily whenever we can, which has included two Metric shows in DC, and now two Soft Skeleton shows here in NY (we were lucky enough to get into the first show at Joe's Pub back in the autumn). Both have been wonderful and exciting, but last night's felt even more special. Tall Firs had a similarly haunting sound, but rambled much more than Emily--and I love rambling music. Under the influence of the name of their band perhaps, I felt as if I were walking through some elemental wilderness--and remembered this momentous walk of mine last year.

The drummer had a wonderful Mary Poppins-esque bag full of tricks that delighted me. Emily read from one of her father's books of poetry-- introducing me (and probably many others in the audience) to Paul Haines' interesting little fragments of jazz-poetry, as well as to his and Carla Bley's
Escalator Over A Hill. I found this site, which links to many of his songs.

But it's her music that's so beautiful. It's quiet music, but it seethes with images and mysteries and ideas. There are little shocks throughout, an errant vernacular phrase, a whispery high note, an undecipherable line (or two). She had brought a long a string quartet which made the performance of Reading in Bed (my favorite off the album), so rich and intense (Emily threw in a few bars of House of the Rising Sun at the end of this song).

Unlike the first show, there was an encore. Emily and the string quartet did a Buffalo Springfield song and then joined Tall Firs and Soft Skeleton in a freshly scored and lush piece which was (I think) called The Woods.

I watched an interview with her following the release of this album, and in it, she speaks about how happy she is to have produced music which could end with solitude and quiet contentment, but which has instead brought out a new aspect of "the universal qualities of people."
It was a wonderful evening.


Something I forgot to mention: at both shows, Emily has shown an montage-esque thing of Guy Maddin films, which are fantastic and creepy and perfect for her music. But I noticed something extra this time around: Maddin takes images from Odilon Redon who I've mentioned here and here

A pleasant surprise