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LUKE TEMPLE
with Meernaa

Songbyrd Presents
Downstairs, All Ages


DOORS: 7:00 PM // SHOW: 8:00 PM

$12 / $15
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Songbyrd Presents

Tuesday September 10, 2019

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I want to call Luke Temple a disciple of Hank Williams and Roger Miller. I want to call him an avant-garde traditionalist. I want to say he’s got an unmatched intuition for the askew. I want to say his only real contemporary peer is another master songsmith named Cass McCombs. I could make a pretty infallible case for any of these statements. But at the end of the day, it’d be adding too many bells and whistles to what his new album is. At its core, it’s one of the year’s most stunning folk records. You should just let Temple’s high-and-lonesome salve of a voice raise your goose-pimples from their dormancy. You should let his insightful, devastating lyrics make tiny, tender tears in your soul.

A Hand Through the Cellar Door is, in many ways, Temple’s most straightforward collection of song-storying tunes to date. There are tales of dysfunctional, broken homes and of dysfunctional, broken people. “Birds of Late December,” with its fluttering, nimble fingerpicking, paints an exacting but impressionistic portrait of divorce through the eyes of an exceptionally wistful child. In both “Maryanne Was Quiet” and “The Case of Louis Warren” we follow two characters whose lives unravel in very different ways, though their central question is the same: After you shed all the things you think make you who you are, what is left? Temple is creating small, confident stories with a massive scope - like a good Alice Munroe story. Album standout “The Complicated Men of the 1940s” is a thought experiment concerning the sacrifice of a passing generation, where the heroes of yesterday seem like the stuffy, old guard to a new generation that’s grown just a bit too entitled to their comfort.

But this being Temple and all - the creative mind behind Here We Go Magic - nothing is really ever so straightforward. The arrangements, kept to a minimal drums/guitar/bass/string set-up here, expand and contract in unexpected ways.Temple writes with the eye of a painter like Eric Fischl. Whereas Fischl will put a subtle provocative image in the margins of a piece to create a feeling of imbalance, Temple will add a guitar hiccup or a just-behind-the-beat string section to create a sensation of everything being slightly off. And in that imbalance, both artists show us grace. Yes, while the tales Temple weaves are bleak, the aura of hope never quite fades from the picture. He turns the tragedies of human folly into a celebration of our eccentricities.


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On their first full-length release, Heart Hunger, Oakland-based Meernaa--Carly Bond (vocals, guitar), Rob Shelton (keys), Doug Stuart (bass), and Andrew Maguire (drums, percussion)-- plumbs the depths of indigo waters. Celestial and soulful, Meernaa’s songs manage to remain grounded in the natural world. Native Cat Recordings will release their highly-anticipated album on 6/14/2019. These songs are reckonings; they are revelations of secrets; they are lonesome wanderings. They are portraits of emotional evolution, rich illustrations of painful pasts and hopeful futures.

Meernaa’s first EP, Strange Life, took them across the country on West- and East-coast tours. Between these runs, the band convened in the studio to build Heart Hunger. Bond had spent much of the prior year writing the skeletons of these songs in isolation, both in her adopted hometown of Oakland, and in the wilds of Big Sur. “Oakland is a place that inspires a lot of extroverted energy and observation of how other people live and survive,” Bond says. “And at times it’s really beautiful and other times it’s really ugly. And Big Sur is more this neutral and natural space. A place of reflection and rest.” In the studio, Shelton, Stuart, and Maguire composed their own parts, refining Bond’s raw materials. They worked closely with engineers James Riotto and Jacob Winik to add layers of color and texture. The resulting 11 songs are at once intricate and immediate, joyous and full of ache.
 
Meernaa’s body of work is “a master class in synth wizardry that manages to bow before the throne of analog gear geekdom without ever sounding fussed over, or getting bogged down in its own minutiae,” says Max Savage Levenson on Not Dead Yet: Bay Area. Of Bond’s songwriting, Amelia Maher of The Line of Best Fit says, “you will find that Meernaa's head honcho's imagination is as intriguing as it is beguiling and mysterious.”