What is the new magic of music? If you trace the path of a plan back to its beginnings, what do you find? Is it a tree, growing from seed with deep roots planted in fertile soil, branches arcing out in all directions? Or a spark in the dark, an electrical charge? Is it a waterway, with swirling currents raging to create a river? Or is it a snowflake, falling from on high and dropping down to earth with a singular splash?
For Son Little, the genesis of a musical idea — the magic — remains largely a mystery. But his kinetic ability to summon that energy all the same, to command it, hold onto it, and set it in motion, is the stuff of alchemy.
“The magic is this well I can draw from; you can’t necessarily see it, you just have to believe that it’s there,” he says. “If you believe, then you can reach your hand down in there and get it wet. But if you don’t feel like it’s there, it won’t be.”
Son Little, the singer and songwriter born Aaron Livingston, is the easygoing musical alchemist of our time. He is a conjurer, and much like those of his heroes Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix, his songs are deconstructions of the diaspora of American R & B. Deftly he weaves different eras of the sound — blues, soul, gospel, rock and roll — through his own unique vision, never forced, always smooth, each note a tributary on the flowing river of rhythm and blues. The currents empty into an estuary, and into this well water Son dips his bucket — trusting innately in the magic’s existence. And now, with his second full-length album, New Magic, he has delivered a profound statement, a cohesive creation that captures the diverse spirit of American music in a fresh and modern way.
“The best of what humans and machines can bring out in each other” is how NPR Music described Doe Paoro’s single “The Wind,” a meditation on urban isolation in the face of Hurricane Sandy. The song, which was produced by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon with beats by Chicago duo Supreme Cuts, sets the tone for the upcoming release of Paoro’s Anti- debut album, After, out on September 25.
The album’s first single is the intoxicatingly downtempo, R&B-influenced “Growth/Decay,” which Paoro co-wrote with Sterling Fox (who has previously worked with Lana Del Rey, among others). The groove-laced, gospel-inspired track ruminates on the notion that change fuels all life, with the chorus putting out the call to “cycle to the light or fade away.”
For After, Paoro worked with producers Sean Carey (drummer / supporting vocalist for Bon Iver) and BJ Burton (The Tallest Man on Earth, Sylvan Esso, and others) to even further deepen her musical repertoire, creating a mesmerizing hybrid of R&B, synthpop, and indie-leaning electro rooted in an earthy minimalism, drawing from influences ranging from Carole King to Portishead, Aretha Franklin and beyond. The album was recorded at April Base, a Wisconsin ranch house that Vernon had converted into a studio. “I’m used to just working with a piano,” says Paoro, “but with this album, we built an entire world with the sonics alone.”
7pm doors – 8pm show | $12 adv. – $15 day of