Arum Rae has an astonishing voice. The phrase that immediately sprang to mind when I walked into the Back Room on Tuesday night was “flight of fancy”, which is not a phrase you can normally use to describe a voice, but it seemed like the only thing that really fit. Arum’s voice is like watching songbirds on a spring day, or maybe in her darker moments the beautiful menace of crows rising up from a cornfield in October. With just a guitar, her voice, and a really talented and subtle drummer backing her for most songs, she absolutely filled up a quiet and haunted space in front of a rapt audience. I was absolutely blown away, and I can’t wait to dig into her catalog and see her again.
My lovely friend Shannon O’Connor opened, and Shannon always blows me away. She writes in such a breadth of styles — twangy rock, folk love songs, punks-playing-old-timey-banjo-with-some-PJ-Harvey — and she is the kind of fabulous human who’s not afraid to drop a musical reference to “Goodnight, Irene” into a song and then follow it up with a Led Zeppelin cover (“Going To California”, which she completely slayed). I feel lucky every time I get to see her play and every time I get to hang out with her.