Eleanor Friedberger’s New View on Display at The Bowery BallroomFebruary 19th, 2016
Eleanor Friedberger – The Bowery Ballroom – February 18, 2016
Eleanor Friedberger and her band kicked off last night’s show at The Bowery Ballroom with the opening three songs from her third solo album, New View: “He Didn’t Mention His Mother,” “Open Season” and “Sweetest Girl,” a breezy 1970s ambiance cloaking Friedberger’s clever, sharply drawn lyrics. The “new view” referenced by the album’s title is in part a nod to the artist’s relocation in recent years from Brooklyn to the more peaceful surroundings of upstate New York.
In contrast to her new, largely mellow material, Friedberger’s performance of older songs like “Stare at the Sun,” “My Mistakes” and “Roosevelt Island,” each packed with New York City references (sleeping on the train, riding the Cyclone, turning off the TV in the back of a taxi) all felt imbued with a certain frenetic energy. Although she seemed to relish revisiting these songs and memories, Friedberger’s new work is clearly close to her heart, and she noted that “Your Word” was her favorite and then later added, “This is my other favorite song,” (“Does Turquoise Work?”) dedicating it to brother Matthew, her longtime bandmate in the Fiery Furnaces.
Last night’s crowd also clearly embraced the new material, rapt by Friedberger’s intense, direct delivery of “Because I Asked You” and charmed by the catchy “Cathy with the Curly Hair.” Eleanor Friedberger remains an understated yet engaging performer and an excellent lyrical storyteller, and her new view has also given new dimension to her sound, which we would certainly be happy to take in again. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK