& FRED LIEDER
"What Happens After Love?"
Institute of Musical Traditions
"The Song Inside"
The supple richness of Lisa Moscatiello's soprano finds a perfect foil in Fred Lieder's elegant cello, making for a chamber-folk sound both ancient and modern. On "What Happens After Love?," the ancient is evident is the duo's hymnlike reading of Fairport Convention's "Now Be Thankful" and evocations of musty folk ballads in taut arrangements of the melancholy "Color of Amber" and "Lass of Glenshee"; all reflect the singer's inspirational roots in Brit folk-rock tradition and recall her first local forays with the fondly remembered New St. George.
The modern comes in her brightly pulsating delivery of Abbey Lincoln's cautionary "Throw It Away" and assorted romantic ruminations. The latter include a Carole King/Gerry Goffin classic, "I Can't Make It Alone," and several Moscatiello originals, notably the aching "Bed by the Window" and the quizzically morose title track, co-written with Bev Stanton of Arthur Loves Plastic, one of several groups the singer is associated with. What's particularly rewarding about this live concert performance is the empathetic interplay between voice and cello (which sometimes slips into walking bass lines) and Moscatiello's exquisite taste. She can conjure up Sandy Denny better than most, her singer-songwriter instincts are solid, and she even shows some country grit on "(Now and Then There's) A Fool Such as I," an Elvis Presley classic that Pasty Cline should have covered.
Sloan Wainwright's familial connections are noteworthy: Younger brother Loudoun's carved an anachronistic path for 30 years, while nephew Rufus and (to a less public extent) niece Martha, are just finding their own voices. Family obviously informs Sloan's music -- her third album even includes a song titled "Martha," also her mother's name, here turned into a joyful celebration of a new friend, "a dreamer, an expansive thinker/ ingests ideas whole, the hook, the line, the sinker."
Not surprisingly, Sloan is inclined to autobiographical writing, though with a poet's healing/revealing instincts, as opposed to Loudoun's penchant for musical journalism-as-exorcism. As a result, a song like "Too Nice for Too Long," traces the tentative first steps of a woman finally focusing on herself after deferring to other's needs for too many years. Universal notions of growth, change, evolution and maturation crop up on such songs as "I Stand Up" and the urgent "Unseen Guide." Wainwright, whose rich, soulful contralto is reminiscent of Toni Childs, also explores the vagaries of love, from the jubilance of "You Are the Feast" and elegant invitations "Fall With Me" and "Falling Backwards," to angry explorations of crumbling relationships like "Less Is More" and "Bridgeburner." With considerable help from co-writer, co-producer Stephen Murphy and luminous harmony vocals from Liadain Clancy, the singer mines a folk-informed rock style with light twists of blues and jazz, all in service to the kind of smart, introspective songwriting you'd expect from a Wainwright.
-- Richard Harrington
Appearing Sunday at IOTA. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Lisa Moscatiello and Fred Lieder, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8125. To hear a free Sound Bite from Sloan Wainwright, press 8126. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)