Carrie Rodriguez, Cara Cowan
You could do a lot worse than spending an evening with two beautiful and talented women like Carrie Rodriguez and her support act Cara Cowan. Both stars lit up the stage in Auntie Annies on Monday night, with Mexican-American songstress Carrie powering through an epic set over one and a half hours long.
Cara may be a much younger talent than Rodriguez, who's already been recording for years, but she still shows huge promise. Despite hailing from Belfast, there's not much that's Northern Irish about her polished music, which seems to have come straight out of Nashville. On stage, Cowan's country-style vocals were near perfect and her sound completely complemented the bluesy tunes Rodriguez sang later on. Her great backing band was another big plus.
Carrie's two musicians Hanz Holzen, on various strings, and Javier Vercher, on sax, keyboard and percussion, also deserve recognition for their performance during the gig but there's no denying Rodriguez with her powerful voice was the main star of the show. She didn't just stand limp at the mic either; displaying extreme confidence as she expertly played the fiddle and strummed guitars along to her vocals.
It's crazy to think Carrie wasn't originally planning on being a solo singer, instead starting off her career as a backing musician. However, legendary songwriter and performer Chip Taylor spotted her potential and soon drafted her in to record duets with him. Rodriguez finally released her heartfelt solo debut in 2006 to critical acclaim and her recently released second album, She Ain't Me, is another great slice of folk and country.
In Auntie Annies, Carrie treated the lucky audience to a huge variety of songs from both records. Whether she was singing, eyes closed, during Seven Angels on a Bicycle, a track she wrote in memory of a dead friend, or performing the barnstorming Never Gonna Be Your Bride, Carrie was simply excellent.
She also added that little bit of extra interest to each song by taking the time to explain its individual story to the audience. Although there were no bad choices on the set list, other notable highlights included new track The Next Town and Rodriguez's take on a melancholy Spanish tune once sung by her grandmother.
It's true that there are plenty of good female singer songwriters out there but judging from this performance few can sing or play the fiddle live on stage quite like Carrie.
Robyn Clare Scott