Review: the Soil and the Sun/Sarah Jaffe (Clifton Center 2/11/15)

The last of the WFPK Winter Wednesday concert series, featuring Sarah Jaffe and the Soil and the Sun, was rightfully packed. Both acts boast rich musical tapestries that would move even the toughest audience. When I arrived, the staff was just beginning to tell guests that the house was nearly full and seats were dwindling. Thankfully the work element of my attendance afforded me a place in the room. I volunteered to stand but was offered a seat to the right of the stage, where I could see the performers despite the small stack of amplifiers in front of me, but, I was most interested in what I would hear.

The Soil and the Sun kicked off the show with their brand of “experiential spiritual folk-rock” or what is clearly the love child of dream-pop, folk and shoegaze. Their set at times droned a tad monotonous, but their music shone brighter in the moments when the band allowed themselves space to ignite. This is a band of very capable players and sometimes I think that kept them a bit tame. They thrived in the space outside their technique. After their set, a group of young girls walked to the stage giggling and asked to meet the singer, Alex McGrath. It was darling and innocent. It’s nice to see those moments of fan connection still exist.

When Sarah Jaffe took the stage, the sober and “classic”-seated Louisville audience seemed to catch her off guard. Her sound has changed over the years from the traditional singer-songwriter format to include the feel of indie and electro-pop. It seems to be an area she is still navigating as her usually rich vocal felt tinny on occasion. Overall she sounded great and seemed to hit a stride near the middle of her set when she found the right spot for her voice. She finished strong with a small crowd dancing in front of her stage — a feat for any artist playing to a Louisville audience in a venue with chairs.