“I’m trying to see if I’m into it to see if I actually want to play it,” said singer/songwriter Adrianne Lenker before launching into the last song of her SOhO set in early February. This need to play, sing, move, and banter in a way that feels authentic seemed to drive her intimate, unguarded, and ultimately hypnotizing performance. The prolific songstress took a short break from touring with her band, Big Thief, to record her beautiful solo album Abysskiss. The Minnesota-born Lenker noted with a laugh that it was recorded “in rainy California” with the help of producer and fellow folk musician, Luke Temple.
Framed by dahlias and candles on either side of the stage, and chairs respectfully huddled together in lines to watch, the room took on a reverent, spiritual, and cozy vibe on a cold night. Lenker didn’t waste any time warming up the space, leading with the Big Thief hit, “Mary.” Jam-packed with a poetic string of details surrounding a childhood friendship, the song gently pulled the audience into Lenker’s meditative collection of sounds, stories, and rhythms.
Temple, who delighted with a lovely opening set, joined Lenker onstage to provide backing on tunes from her latest album. Highlights included “Womb,” “Out of Your Mind” and the entrancing “Symbol.” Lenker’s achingly soulful vocals ebb and flow in a way that feels as if she’s playing the song for the first time; yet the guitar work is so seamless, steady, and fluid, there’s no way she could just be winging it. Lenker, who’s been playing the guitar since she was a kid, combines the chops of a pro with the earnestness of a young woman just figuring things out. The combination is entrancing.