Eleanor Friedberger – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 28, 2013
In the Fiery Furnaces, Eleanor Friedberger’s band with her brother, Matthew, the singer delivered lyrics like abstract puzzles, little ciphers of intricate and, at times, inscrutable language. But in her solo work, her lyrics have taken a more straightforward narrative direction, as evidenced in her new album, the aptly titled Personal Record. Friedberger and her band performed their final show of a cross-country tour at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday night, which also included the debut screening of She’s a Mirror, an abstract, comedic short film inspired by her song of the same name, which Friedberger made with director Joe DeNardo.
After appearing on celluloid, Friedberger soon materialized in the flesh, where she seemed to relish performing her new songs, which cover a range of emotions and styles. She was just as comfortable while unself-consciously bouncing around singing the jaunty “Staring at the Sun” and “My Own World,” as she was during a spare, solo rendition of the existential number “I Am the Past.” Of course, the rapid-fire approach to singing that Friedberger perfected in the Fiery Furnaces still came into play during the wordy verses on songs like “Early Earthquake” and “Roosevelt Island.” She’s an assertive performer, and at times, like during her rendition of the excellent “Other Boys,” the singer had a subtle swagger not unlike a mellow version of a young Mick Jagger (her fringe haircut only adds to the comparison.)
For the last song of the night, Friedberger and her band tore into “My Mistakes,” the opening cut from her 2011 album, Last Summer, laced with a contagious keyboard riff and underscored by saxophone. “I thought I’d learn from my mistakes,” intoned Friedberger, though with a prevailing sense of comic detachment rather than regret. This seems to be a fitting attitude for Friedberger, whose solo career has demonstrated willingness to explore and experiment in her art without insecurity. With that, she jumped down into crowd for an impromptu dance party, and the band played on. —Alena Kastin