With 2008 drawing to a close, this is my final chance of the year to fill these pages with bubbling praise for Lucy Michelle. Though she and her band, the Velvet Lapelles, played more shows locally this year than practically any other act (with the possible exception of G.B. Leighton), there's still a sliver of a chance that some readers haven't yet checked out this skyrocketing, Picked to Click, omnipresent young sensation live and in the flesh. And for that reason she deserves a handful more words in print.
Armed with a ukulele and backed by a swaggering band of five of her biggest fans, Michelle is an unassuming yet commanding force. Her voice, initially shocking in its hard-edged veracity but eventually mesmerizing, swoops through the high and low ranges with ease, and is surpassed only by her talent for whistling like a joyous, note-perfect songbird. Her songs guide listeners through tales of loves won and lost, told with a cool detachment and wry sense of humor that highlight her ability to construct the perfect anti-fairy tale.
"I'll never be the one to evaporate your nightmares," she sings on "Postcards," a track from her debut album, Orange Peels and Rattlesnakes. "And I'll never be the one to climb up all those stairs—I'll never be the one to be there." It's enough to break even the hearts of those who have yet to fall in love with her, lamented over the nimble strums of her beloved ukulele. For those seeking comfort in rehashed roots-revival music, look elsewhere. But for those wanting their heartstrings yanked firmly by a genre-bending jazz-punk-Gypsy-folk chanteuse, delve into the scintillating world of this up-and-coming grievous angel.
Andrea Swensson is City Pages' music editor.
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