Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mini Review: William Fitzsimmons and Slow Runner at the Muse

Before William Fitzsimmons’ set at Evening Muse Tuesday, his first Charlotte show in quite a while, I heard someone in the audience comment that they liked his voice and music but realized just how sad his lyrics are once they started reading his cd’s liner notes. It's true. Fitzsimmons writes great sad songs (even his one cover - The Smith's "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" - was fittingly depressing).

The Illinois-based songwriter did address such topics as death and divorce, but the show certainly wasn’t a downer.

Backed by Charleston trio Slow Runner, who turned in an opening set on par with Fitzsimmons’, it was a night of thoughtful pop and folk. Several of Slow Runner’s songs, one of which currently appears in a Nivea commercial, have an aura of familiarity to them as good pop music sometimes does. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the songs from their new album “Damage Points” is picked up by VH1.

While Slow Runner gave more of a loud pop-rock performance, Fitzsimmons, who has had a couple songs on “Grey’s Anatomy,” was a quiet singer. That was perfectly ok because most of the time you could hear a pin drop (or more likely a cell phone ring) making it a perfect show for the intimate Muse. The songs may have been serious, but the singer-songwriter was not. He was self-aware and slightly self-deprecating as he joked about his seriously sad songs in a deep speaking voice that was quite the opposite of his singing voice. Of the terrific new tracks from his album “Gold in the Shadow” he said “New songs can be boring.” But in this case, they weren’t.

The arrangements and set up made the songs off the new disc less orchestrated and a touch more raw, an approach that I actually think benefits both the album and the live show. He and the band stepped off the stage with the audience encircling them for the last unamplified song, “Good Morning” (which is how I snapped the photo above).

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