Thursday, January 29, 2009

Christina Courtin: New York's Best Kept Secret

A few years ago, it seemed Christina Courtin was all people in the New York music scene were talking about, as they followed her around the downtown circuit, on stage everywhere from Joe's Pub to Rockwood Music Hall. But somehow I always seemed to miss her; until last week, when I quite fortuitously stumbled upon her as the opening act for Andrew Bird's show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Ms. Courtin is a very physical performer: she holds her ground center stage, but rocks back and forth on her legs, as if with a little more momentum she could launch directly forward into the audience.  This physicality, combined with the quivering, slightly dissonant sound of her voice adds up to some sort of hybrid between Bjork and Jodie Foster's legendary character, Nell  (and, misleading as that may seem, I mean that in the very best of ways).  
Courtin's repertoire runs the gamut from rock to blues to gentle ballads, but it is the twangy country melodies that seem most improved by her unique, irresistible vocal style.  Striking as that is, however, she is firmly supported by the men in her band, all of whom play and sound like a true ensemble of equally important parts.
Let me say one more thing as further testament to the unique character that is Christina Courtin.  She stepped out on stage in front of a house of Billyburg hipsters/Andrew-Bird-lovers wearing a tight gold one-piece, with a black belt and black boots.   She claims it was because it was bassist Ryan Scott's Golden Birthday.  
"Am I the only one wearing a gold one-piece tonight?" She interjected between songs, "I hope so.  But I also... don't hope so".     
I don't think Christina has to worry much about the risk of blending in, in any sense or on any level.  

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