With Julie Odell
Vinyl Lounge, All Ages
DOORS: 7:30 PM // SHOW: 8:00 PM
Saturday, October 13th, 2018
Vinyl Lounge, All Ages
Free with $5 Suggested Donation
On Kate Teague’s Songs
There’s something in a great voice that can wake you up to living, that can make distance—the distance between here and then, between memory and lack of faith—seem less terrible. Kate Teague’s got one of those voices. It’s a cathedral of enchantments. A pre-dawn glow. A valley of fulfilled hopes.
Teague’s songs are honest and frank, and they avoid drama. They’re quiet in a restless way, absorbent, they dream of you while you dream of them. They move movingly. They host a widening brightness. There’s no easy this-sounds-like-that to hand over (though I’d say Teague stuns and shimmers most like Dolores O’Riordan and Hope Sandoval). These songs are starlight. They punch a ticket on the best carnival ride. They’re long shadows in the grass. They generate their own power.
For Teague, melody comes first and sets the tone. And hers are melodies to live in, like letting in a sound you feel you’ve known forever. On “Gilly,” a song for her sister, the strutting melody tells a story of starting again. Teague’s lyrical choices are a perfect match: “You lean on that closed door / And with your blinders on you do your daily plans / Oh, don’t you understand / Anyone would be your man / Gilly, you’ll be alright.” The twining of melody and words makes for a striking visual. There’s Gilly leaning against that closed door, on the verge of escape. There’s the narrator, singing her down. More enchantment.
Teague’s songs tell stories of what poet Kay Ryan calls “tired blood.” On “Good to You,” she sings: “Please be patient with me, I am lost / but I want / to be good to you / I want to be good to you / I know I’m full of mistakes / And you hold on anyway.” It’s this desire for patience, this embrace of a certain strain of American lostness that put me in mind of one of my favorite lyrics of all-time, from Jason Molina’s “Whip-Poor-Will”: “Now count every rhododendron in this cool mountain light / I made more mistakes than that just tonight.” Teague’s assertion is triumphant and hopeful in the same way as Molina’s. Finding the nutrients in failure (to crib another line from Ryan), struggling through weakness and doubt, can reveal a path to survival.
Recorded at Delta-Sonic Sound in Memphis, what’s clearly captured here is a performer with an intransigent spirit. Teague, originally from Mobile, Alabama and currently living in Oxford, Mississippi, sings and plays rhythm guitar, and she’s backed by Kieran Danielson on guitar, Adam Porter on bass, Gabriel Hasty on keys, and Ian Kirkpatrick on drums. The key players in three other bands—Bonus, Starman Jr., and Graham—they bring a floating feeling to Teague’s songs. Clay Jones’s production allows the songs room to breathe; there’s no artifice, no fake sugar glaze. Teague’s debut album will be released by Muscle Beach Records in early 2019—it’s something to look forward to in this time of hideous uncertainty.
When you encounter these songs, my guess is you’ll feel restored. You’ll feel the force of wisdom. You’ll feel, perhaps, that you’re holding close something you’d forgotten that you needed.