Theresa Andersson – Street Parade
Sweden-born, New Orleans-formed Theresa Andersson has been compared to a host of distaff musical iconoclasts, among them Kate Bush, Tori Amos and Laurie Anderson. To be sure, she does share Bush’s obsession with sonic detail as well as certain vocal similarities, Amos’ flair for performance drama and Anderson’s eternal quest for the unexpected. But placing her within a lineage risks diluting how unique the 40-year old multi-instrumentalist actually is. Thanks to sundry YouTube clips you can readily view her proficiency; having witnessed her in concert, I can testify that beyond the general awe she inspires as she wields violin, guitar and effects pedals while creating/deploying percussion and vocal loops to make it sound like it’s ten people up there rather than one tiny woman, the sheer exuberance and joy radiating from the stage marks her closer to one-woman gospel choir than one-woman rock band.
As compelling as Andersson’s 2008 album Hummingbird, Go! was, the new one takes things to a new level for the songstress. If part of the former record’s charm was its seams-and-stitches-showing DIY nature, Street Parade takes its cue from the title and transports both musician and listener out of the home studio and into the sunshine (or, in the case of the luminous “Hold On To Me,” with its pulsing, firefly-like vocal overlays, under the stars). The title track, for example, nods melodically to the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer In the City” as it winds up and down sonic avenues like a New Orleans funeral procession/celebration. Meanwhile, an actual marching band is heard in the dreamy “What Comes Next,” its horns and drums plus Andersson’s keening voice – accompanied by Peter Moren – echoing off buildings and down alleyways. And the jaunty, bluesy-boozy “Fiya’s Gone” suggests a vaudeville troupe getting ejected at dawn from a speakeasy, the players a bit worse for the wear but determined to keep playing until they collapse.
There’s plenty more to chew on, of course, but the point is that by finding the sweet spot between spontaneity and craft, Andersson not only makes you want to root for her as a performer, she also draws you in to make you feel part of her parade. Where do I sign up?