During her too-short visit to Los Angeles, globetrotting songstress Keren Ann played a guitar shop, a house party … and the 1,200-capacity theater at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex on the campus of Cal State Los Angeles.
- ||| Photos by Chris Molina
After her set Saturday night, it’s hard to imagine either of those cozy shows could possibly match the warmth and intimacy the 37-year-old singer/guitarist/composer brought to the Luckman. Performing largely acoustic at the front of a bare-bones three-piece, Keren Ann charmed and cooed through 75 minutes of music weighted toward her most recent – and most pop-oriented – release, “101.” The Israeli-born, French-reared, New York-based chanteuse was at turns lilting and upbeat, her velvety voice and careful phrasing curling around twining guitars and textures from trumpeter Avishai Cohen.
That she was playing a spit-polished theater to a sit-down crowd was not lost on her. “This place is so polite,” she told the crowd with a smile after “All the Beautiful Girls,” “but I know you rock. I can feel it.”
She did too, in her own way. The songs from “101” lost some zip in their stripped-down presentation, but thanks to Cohen, nothing in the way of sophistication was sacrificed. Using pedal effects, he coaxed myriad tones out of his trumpet, creating a remarkable dialogue between the horn and the singer’s alto. It gave another dimension to an evening that still might have been memorable had Keren Ann stuck to plucked-and-strummed guitar pop with occasional twang.
The single “My Name is Trouble” felt more like a ballad than the nifty dance-pop number in the video, but after a set colored by everything from jazzy touches to country noir, Keren Ann revealed that she is no trouble at all.
Soft-spoken Chris Garneau opened the night with a set of spare but riveting baroque pop.