Connor Desai is set to play ToST in Fremont this Friday night with two bands, including Benyaro. She’ll be going on about 9 PM, and though her excellent second album Use Your Hands features delightful playing from other musicians (including Paris Burley on violin), this will be a stripped down solo set to show off the strength of new songs like the simmering “Waiting” and the mesmerizing “Friend of the Devil” to friends and strangers alike.
Desai makes creatively personal, deeply attractive, very cool, roots-based pop music. Released earlier this summer, Use Your Hands (awesome title) hints at the often direct and confessional aspect of her lyric writing, but the music is not lost in an icy swirl of indie rock distance. Instead, it’s hollow-bodied warmth, tube amp glow, and dark lounge haunt-drama. The title track itself, finishing off the full length, is seven and a half minutes of beauty perfecting itself. The Jazz Music Examiner was right to say that Desai is an “extraordinary Seattle artist with a voice all her own,” and she was recently featured on a Channel One profile.
If you fear either sincerity or sophistication, Hands may challenge you. It has no pretenses of fitting into contemporary trends, and yet it reminds me of great singer-songwriter albums associated with Pacific NW history, and would be a smart choice to have on shuffle with Rusty Willoughby’s new solo release and Norfolk & Western’s one just out. Thoughtful, adult music unafraid to knead out the worries of the day with a little dreaming and storytelling, whispering and playing.
ToST is located at 513 N. 36th St. #E, Seattle, WA 98103.