Eleanor Friedberger and Josh Wise
Ballroom Marfa welcomed singer-songwriter Eleanor Friedberger for a weeklong residency and recording session, culminating in a special performance at the Crowley Theater in Marfa, Texas. Josh Wise of the indie band The French Kicks opened.
Eleanor Friedberger has been making music with her brother Matthew as The Fiery Furnaces since 2000. With the Furnaces, Eleanor details magical realist scenarios over her brother’s madcap prog-rock arrangements: A quick survey of their seven-album discography reveals songs about pirates, candy makers, and the Vietnamese Telephone Ministry. With Last Summer, her 2011 solo release, she turns her eye to less exotic, but no less engaging, material. In what she described in one interview as a “love letter to New York,” she ventures into autobiographical territory, slipping into a laid-back, singer-songwriter mode.
Her stories are simple ones: The wonder of travel by subway. Waiting to score drugs on a “designated bench.” Buying stolen bike parts on Coney Island. All laid out over arrangements that range from straightforward piano ballads to complex pop matrices of guitars, synthesizers, saxophones and whistles. Her imagery and instrumentation invites comparisons to artists like Joni Mitchell and Harry Nilsson as well as Todd Rundgren and Sparks. Friedberger’s snapshots quickly pull the listener in, suggesting that you might’ve been there too. Taken all together, her observations become a graphic illustration of a particular time and place.John Wise writes songs in an experimental folk vein, where melodic singing and processed fingerstyle guitar are joined with ambient sounds and percussion in what one reviewer called “circadian rhythm music.”
Special thanks to The Big Bend Sentinel, Joe & Ross Cashiola, Dan Chamberlin, Lee Cohen, Rob Crowley, Tim Crowley and Jennifer Bell of the Crowley Theater, Chris Hillen, Marfa Public Radio, Marfa Recording Company, Merge Records, Colt Miller, Luke Bulman & Jessica Young of Thumb Projects and Lance Webb.