Whiskey and song

Camera Obscura, the Paradise, January 27, 2007
By MELISSA POCEK  |  January 30, 2007

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REDEMPTION: Camera Obscura offer raw emotion tempered by hope.
Lovelorn songs with sorrowful lyrics are key ingredients for any respectable emo band. But adding a sense of hope or even a taste of redemption to those tunes is a real achievement. And that’s a big part of what sets Camera Obscura apart from their peers. They’re not the first to realize that offsetting raw emotions with uplifting music is a winning formula. But in an arena where introspective male singer-songwriters are the norm, the sweet vocals of Tracyanne Campbell, who hit the Paradise stage last Saturday night in a lil’ orange vintage farmgirl dress, make all the difference, putting a fresh twist on the familiar.

The six-piece Scottish band didn’t come charging out of the gate. The first three songs were mellow, sway-inducing numbers. But then the petite Campbell started clapping rhythmically along to songs with a bit more energy to them — “Let’s Get Out of This Country,” the title track from their latest Merge album, and “I Need All the Friends I Can Get” — the crowd warmed up, and the band began to hit their stride. Campbell loosened up too, throwing a few lines from the Paul Simon tune “You Can Call Me Al” into a Motown-style tune. And instead of sticking to the usual guitar, bass, and drums, her band kept things interesting with the addition of horns and mandolin. “We do this thing to try and see who is the most generous audience,” Campbell said a bit mischievously. “We like whiskey.” And, fortified with a few shots, they offered thanks by way of taking requests during a generous encore.

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