Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cortney Tidwell at The Basement, 9/25/09

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 6:07 AM

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See the slideshow for more photos.

Last Friday's record release for Cortney Tidwell's Boys was hotly anticipated, even if we did arrive at The Basement in typical late asshole style, whereupon we learned that Paper Hats had already played. Eager to suck down smoke outside, we had just enough time for a drink and mingle before Caitlin Rose began.

The Pre-Raphaelite Rose did her semi-solo set, with occasional vocal accompaniment from Tristen and Jordan Caress. She's a charming artist who readily endears herself to her crowd with bizarre little asides about tornadoes and drinking. But there's power behind her understated style: The girl's got a voice Nashville can be proud of. It wasn't long before Tidwell and her band of goddamn first-rate musicians were on. At the bar with our back to the stage when her set began, we knew we were going to be pleased before we turned around. In a town that makes a concertgoer spoiled for choice, it's still rare to be so immediately on board with a performance.

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Alternating between opposites felt like the theme--loud then quiet, hot then cold. Her set list seemed to deliberately toy with the crowd, building them up to a manic rock 'n' roll frenzy with one song, only to tease them back down again with evocative, ethereal foreplay on the next. But the strategy never felt studied: Tidwell exuded pride in her band and respectfully confessed musical crushes on Caitlin Rose and Tristen, who jumped back in on vocals from time to time. Nashville institution and Lambchop frontman Kurt Wagner joined Tidwell onstage for an unlikely but wholly tender and stirring rendition of Jefferson Airplane's "Today." It got us to thinking, considering they share several bandmates, perhaps this duo should do us all a favor and start a real live project together.

Ending with "17 Horses" (our new favorite), Tidwell & Co. let the tension snap. It was a bold move to climax with a song that's a build-up in and of itself, but it was a ludicrously effective one. Heaving her body around the small stage, Tidwell had us concerned she'd crash into her band, all intently pounding away on their instruments, and pounding any question that there was any other place to have been that night.

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