Sunday, November 02, 2008
While most folk performers ply their trade with earnest musings and loosely strummed open chords to largely empty pubs, tonight’s packed and humid Wesley Anne sees a show of a different kind. The sheer unadulterated joy in playing and storytelling is alive for all to see at a Kalimaa show. She is a relatively new face on the circuit and tonight, launching her debut EP, and there is a refreshing and cleansing quality to spending time with her, perhaps coming from seeing someone do this folk-music thing right; with unpretentiousness, originality and love.
Before the launch of Kalimaa’s set comes an ever-recommendable performance by The Hazelman Brothers. This fraternal three-piece seem to go from strength to strength with new songs shining. Most notable is the closing Something’s Written that spirals off in unexpected directions with new-plunged depths and striking originality, while the opening Put You In A Song and the Biblical Doomsday stun with their rich and faultless harmonies. What also impresses is the level of guitar arrangements, or guitarmonies if you will. There are 18 strings on stage and, during their newer songs especially, each one stands out. It’s not hard to see The Hazelmans as being a fitting support for Fleet Foxes; their dry and distinctly Australian sounds sound effortlessly original in this most populated of genres.
The effortless confidence that exudes from Kalimaa, aka Karlee Baker, is the first thing that impresses. That she soon informs us of her day job as a teacher may go someway to explaining this. The idea of ‘gig as a diary’ is perhaps an old one but Kalimaa renders it in a new light. As with most good folk music, you get such a clear vision of the person you’re watching that how much you like them on a personal level plays a big part in your ability to connect with their music. That Kalimaa doesn’t attempt to render events in her life in obtuse imagery or make her feelings elusive and malleable is part of her strength. As such humour and sincerity flow and each song is a story. Her aside of ‘I live my life collecting stories to tell on the other side,’ perfectly encapsulates her mission. This gig shows a compendium of such stories, concisely told and beautifully rendered, or, sometimes more of the ‘put it in a song and get over it’ variety.
‘Therapeutic’ songs can be horribly boring and pointless (James Blunt), happily Kalimaa offers no such awkwardness. Somewhat endearing are her efforts to write songs that aren’t about herself but which still seem to concern boys meeting strong-willed girls and them running away together. Her band of violin, bass, drums, cello and guitar flesh out her songs well, never overpower (quite a feat given the sound problems that seem to plague this PA) and only help her to win over the room with her sincerity and likeability.