Friday, January 29, 2010
7:00 PM–8:30 PM Free
As anyone who’s caught one of Christina Courtin’s live performances can attest, the New York City-based musician decisively takes over whatever space she’s occupying; her long dark hair flying behind her as she paces the stage, her voice malleable and otherworldly, and an irrepressible smile on her face throughout. It’s not simply youthful bravado but a kind of rapture that possesses her–the unalloyed pleasure of singing, connecting, pouring out as much of her heart as possible in an all-too-brief set.
With her newest album Courtin turns her high-voltage style inside-out. Her self-titled disc is disarmingly beautiful and intimate, her voice at times pared down to a confessional whisper, yet it’s just as compelling as her bravura work on stage. There’s something beguiling about opening tracks Green Jay and Bundah, as if we’ve stumbled into a reverie already in progress. Courtin’s vocals are warm, gentle, and dreamy; she stretches out individual words in slow motion while chamber-ensemble strings wrap themselves around folk-rock-leaning melodies. As the disc progresses, darker, moodier sounds and emotions lurk around the edges of her songs. One gets the sense that turmoil lies beneath the surface, and that feeling becomes palpable by the seventh track, the tour-de-force Laconia. Metal-tinged guitar chords courtesy of Jon Brion push aside the string ensemble and Courtin’s voice turns startlingly raw as she repeats, like Dorothy in Oz, “How did I end up here, and how do I get back?”
Appraising her album, Courtin says, “The records that I love the most are the ones that are full of life and energy-and that doesn’t in any way mean perfection. They have real feeling to them. One of the things I wanted to achieve with the record was for it to be a real world of its own, with songs and sounds that take you somewhere else.”