Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
rooklyn may not exactly have been enough of a hotbed of country music for Michaela Anne. Thus, about 1-½ years ago, she packed up her belongings with her husband (and drummer) Aaron Shafer-Haiss and headed for Nashville. Except, they headed to East Nashville more precisely where the rep is that the cooler country cats are hanging.
That well may be the case considering Michaela Anne's hour-long outing, which proved even more traditional than her just released CD, "Bright Lights and the Fame." With players like Kacey Musgraves and Brandy Clark pushing a more traditional country sound, that leaves space for an indie artist like Michaela Anne.
And she made the most of it in the extremely intimate basement venue with a crowd of about 30 people. With engaging banter about her material and easy-going approach, Michaela Anne also connected musically.
The emphasis was on the new CD with only about one song from her previous release, "Ease My Mind." And there are a lot of good songs on there, from the honky tonk of the title track, played early in the set, to fellow tonkers "Everything I Couldn't Be" and "Worrying Mind" to the closing song of the regular set, "Luisa."
Michaela Anne ended the evening with her slow, measured ruminations on Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart." Yes, it is an overplayed standard, but Michaela Anne turned in a credible version.
In fact, her live delivery typically added more punch to the recorded versions.
With no lead guitar in the line-up of drums, acoustic guitar and bass, pedal steel player Philip Sterk , in effect, was the guitarist. He certainly made his instrument sing, infusing the songs with just the right tones throughout.
As for whether Michaela Anne is trying to live up the title of her latest, who knows? She may not be quite ready for either bright lights or fame just yet as she is an artist in development. That's not a backhanded compliment because she has improved by leaps and bounds from album two to three. And she did even better in the flesh. Not bad for a Brooklyn girl.