The Last Town Chorus at Lizard Lounge, February 1, 2008
The Last Town Chorus
Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Megan Hickey came to Cambridge’s Lizard Lounge last Friday riding a wave of critical kudos, mostly in response to her sophomore CD as the Last Town Chorus, last year’s Wire Waltz (HackTone). But there’s little question that much of the attention she’s garnered is a response to her instrument: though she favors dreamy, melancholy roots pop, she doesn’t just sing, she plays the lap-steel guitar, an instrument usually associated with hardcore country.
The results resembled Mazzy Star — slow, aching, and plaintive. Hickey was joined by acoustic-guitarist Rich Hinman at the Lizard, as well as by locals Jennifer Kimball (piano) and Berklee prof Kevin Barry (also on lap steel). They added layers to a mournful cover of David Bowie’s “Modern Love,” where the pace was slowed until the song became a lament, mining sadness and fear. “Church on time — terrifies me,” she sang, and you believed her.
Hickey brought measured grace and a mellifluous voice to everything she touched; that included Dylan’s “Just like a Woman” and Def Leppard’s “Love Bites.” And she cranked up the lap steel — using an analog delay and a distortion pedal — to make the instrument wail, moan, and cry, flirting at times with dissonance. Her originals revealed raw emotions. “I wish I understood/I wish you wanted to be understood,” she sang in “Understanding.” And in “Wire Waltz,” a somber break-up song, the central image was “a fistful of broken glass.”
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