City Winery, New York City • March 7, 2013
I’d like to think that in the chaos of our current times, there is an undercurrent of longing for a simpler era, or an age of innocence — maybe a Judy Garland moment when one can think rainbows and croon sweetly at what could be. Our hardened modern natures of the information age would think most of the time that it’s a schlocky hormonal moment that will pass. But really — what’s wrong with that? It’s why we hear John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” after the Times Square ball drops to ring in the new year. When that moment comes, Kat Edmonson is right there to be your muse. She’s the sweet chanteuse I would want on stage if I were magically zapped into a 1940s tender romance.
An NPR and Austin City Limits darling, Edmonson is a tribute to the great American songbook. Her songs channel the days of Patsy Cline and Connie Francis with music styles that vary – waltzy jazz ballads, bossa nova rhythms, and country-blues were peppered throughout the set. Edmonson is also a perfect act for City Winery, a posh restaurant and wine bar just south of West Village that caters to an older and classier crowd, and offers a haven for artist “residencies.” Residencies are a set of repeated shows over several weeks where artists can work on a new act or try out new material. Numerous artists have done residencies there, including Joan Osborne, John Wesley Harding, and the great Ronnie Spector to name a few. Edmonson was not doing a residency, but in the spirit of City Winery, she filled the place with class and style. And, although her debut album, Take to the Sky, had a mix of jazz standards and jazzy covers of rock songs (e.g.: The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” in bossa nova), Edmonson’s show that night focused on original songs from her second album, Way Down Low, and some new songs that are in progress.
Edmonson is gifted with a high pitched, melodic voice that floats like an absinthe buzz. Songs like “Hopelessly Blue” are simple and swimmingly tender. If her voice doesn’t carry you away, her endearing stage presence will. Undoubtedly, this native Texan is waify, dainty, and utterly charming. When someone asked about the new album, she delighted the crowd with a somewhat shy but clever response: “We’re in the conceptual stage, currently flirting, dating, and making love. Will let you know when there’s a commitment.”
After the one-hour set was finished, Edmonson politely excused herself and apologized for not staying afterwards. Although she didn’t say where she was going, it turned out she was on her way to Carnegie Hall to join a lineup of impressive artists singing the songs of Prince, and where she sang a slow, more haunting but captivating version of “The Beautiful Ones.” It’s a satisfying snub to those insipid American Idol judges who wrote her off in the Season 2 auditions and determined that she wasn’t “star material.” Suck it, Randy Jackson.
Kat Edmonson: katedmonson.com