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October 28, 2008
When Theresa Andersson takes the stage, she does so alone. And though she remains the only body on stage for the duration of her hour-long set, she is accompanied by a familiar mess of metal and wire encircling her at her feet. Mid-way through her set in New York last week the room was at capacity, too many fashionable haircuts blocking the stage view for those in the back. Barely visible was Andersson's lone figure, small in stature, big in voice, at the helm. In the midst of things, it's easy to forget that Andersson's "band" is merely her, looped and layered several times over, living only as an electronic manifestation.

The annual CMJ festival landed in New York City last week, making Manhattan's already popular Lower East Side venues sites of pilgrimage for the musically devout. Wednesday night at the Living Room, an intimate and homey performance space, Andersson plowed through a set list of over half a dozen songs. Contrary to her European roots, the Swedish-born, New Orleans-transplanted multi-instrumentalist has the pop sensibility of a down-home soul singer. Live, her breezy, jazz-tinged songs elicit a nostalgic sense of Americana.

The latest wave of indie-pop has seen the influence of Swedish imports, say Jose Gonzales, Peter Bjorn & John, the cultish I'm From Barcelona, et al. With electronica beats contrasting their girlish sopranos, breakthrough Swedish female vocalists, like Lykke Li and Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife, have asserted sensuality in a scene otherwise characterized as peppy and bright-eyed. Theresa Andersson's hearty vocals tend to emulate Motown more so than Mjölby.

Anderssen, via loop pedal, plays all the instruments on her recently released LP, Hummingbird, Go!. Doubling back vocals, violin, guitar, and percussion upon themselves yields lush layers of weaving melodies; Andersson's live performance conveys her DIY ethic even more effectively. As she records the loops and twiddles knobs, the audience watches the construction of each song, an almost-dance of pedal stomping, instrument switching, and percussion cueing. Although seemingly effortless, the amount of concentration Andersson has for this process is tremendous. One false push of a button and the error lives on in every repetition of the loop. The girl's got to be on.

In New York Andersson opened with "O Mary," to a crowd larger than that of her last New York tour stop in August. The playful "Na Na Na" offers her signature mix of soulful folk and operatic falsetto. One by one, she introduced the Kitchenettes, an all-girl, all-Andersson looped back-up chorus in "Introducing the Kitchenettes," a piece of energied "shoop shooping." Deviating from her solely English repertoire, she broke into "Inman du Garnow," a Swedish tune that adds a solemn yet sophisticated tenor to her set. Her finale in a capella, "Cost of Freedom," was a stunning display of vocal control. An hour after her start, her songs created and delivered, Andersson could be found walking among the crowd, welcoming and thanking; likewise, Theresa.

VIDEO: "Na Na Na" live in Andersson's kitchen.

SEE ALSO: www.theresaandersson.com
SEE ALSO: www.basinstreetrecords.com
SEE ALSO: www.livingroomny.com

--
Lara Longo
Lara Longo is a writer and photographer from Brooklyn, NY. In 1989, Lara received her first CD player and album, Appetite for Destruction; ever since, music is something she has fawned over, hated on, and played loudly. Her work has also appeared in Relix and New York Cool. Lara’s interests include sharks, European television, and the Hammond B3 organ.

See other articles by Lara Longo.

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