Americana / Gig Reviews / Swamp Rock

LIVE REVIEW: Loene Carmen @ Excelsior, Sydney 12/08/10

Loene Carmen | photo by Chris Familton

written by Chris Familton

This was the first show for A Casual End Mile as a duo, now with added drums, and it worked well adding another dimension to the delicate Mazzy Star-like folk songs of Madelaine Lucas. Through the warm and intimate PA her voice was up front and engaging though it would be interesting to hear songs with another added layer of guitar texture.

Ed Clayton-Jones (The Wreckery) has a new project called Chord Blood which this time sees him stripped back to a guitar/drums duo pounding out the same kind of blues rock that bands like The White Stripes, The Black Keys etc have revived in recent years. Clayton-Jones has built some Them Crooked Vultures riff and stomp into his sound and for the most part he pulled it off, introducing some sweat and swagger to the growing crowd.

The main reason everyone was there was to (very) belatedly celebrate the release of Loene Carmen’s 8 month old album It Walks Like Love. Carmen has carved out a niche as Sydney’s sultry songstress taking in americana, soul, blues and rock & roll influences. Tonight she showed that whether with a band behind her – and tonight it featured members of The Scare and Holy Soul – or solo she can command a stage without ego or theatrics.

Carmen played a range of songs from her four solo albums giving them all the hazy, dirty guitar treatment. Through the swampy sounds she sang her songs of love and despair with that smoky whisper of a voice that never wavers off course. For the krautrock pulse of Mimic The Rain she swapped her guitar for a tambourine and dialed up some pout and groove that proved to be one of the highlights of her set and showed how well her songwriting has expanded from the singer/songwriter template to a much wider canvas.

Carmen would be a perfect character for a David Lynch film with that last-drink, noir mood she creates and when she ended her set with Sunday Night, the final track from It Walks Like Love, the audience were transfixed and transported into her story of two souls trying to figure things out. The magic of Carmen is her ability to draw you into her songs and tonight’s show will have compelled many to visit or re-visit her wonderful album.

this review first appeared in Drum Media

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