Indie rock star Courtney Barnett played most of her smashing 2015 debut and some new material last night at Crystal Ballroom.
If I could use one word to describe Springtime Carnivore’s sound I would say “colorful.” The whirl and bounce of the piano melodies spin into the air like gray or blue birds from a magician’s hand, effortless and out of nowhere. Greta Morgan’s voice itself has a sultry timbre that reminds me of green and orange sunrises coming up over hills. Everything about Greta Morgan’s performance Friday night at the Doug Fir showed just how long she’s been a working musician. Her face under the red and blue gels drew the audience’s gaze like lost humans to a bright and crackling fire in the forest. And once there, we were made comfortable by the straightforward ease of her performance. As much as this personality is surely Morgan as a person, she’s also had a decade of performing with bands to get over any stage fright. There was no nervousness as she sang, no mean-streak brought on by insecurity, just confidence and a playfulness that brought the crowd round to itself. Women in zip-up hoodies holding whiskey gingers in plastic cups, and men wearing checkered shirts grinned as they listened to the alluring hooks and soaring vocals. It was easy to be lulled, almost sedated by the sweetness of the songs, but it was Greta Morgan’s onstage charm that won over anyone unconvinced by the music. Her current touring four-piece group brought out the medium tempo grooves and catchy keyboard layers that make the album such an easy one to throw on in the morning.
I talked to her briefly afterwards in the green room while headliners The Dodos worked their way through a spirited set on the other side of a thin wall. When asked where Springtime Carnivore came from she spoke of how she felt she had found a genuine artistic voice, and wanted to make a strong break from previous projects. She referenced Japanese painting culture’s tradition of changing a name only once to represent one’s true voice, suggesting that this project carries a sense of clarity and honesty that she has really connected to. As for the words themselves, a hungry coyote walking over a country road caught her eye one day while she was free writing, and “Springtime Carnivore” has stuck ever since.