It’s been a quiet year thus far for Orange County-based singer/songwriter Emily Simonian. Having released her Pale Green EP last year to acclaim, she’s been busy recording her follow-up full-length, which has left little time for live shows. That being said, last night’s intimate show at Bar Lubitsch, once known for being trendy bar scene, (and has rapidly become a haven for mid-week singer/songwriter shows in a small setting) was her first in Los Angeles in some time, and it was worth the wait.
To my surprise, the back room at the Russian themed bar was pretty packed. As the petite singer lugged her gigantic Yamaha synthesizer on stage, there was a feeling of intrigue amongst the audience about what she would sound like. Over her 30-minute set, Simonian won over the curious audience with a blend of old tunes, new material and crowd-pleasing covers.
Having yet to see her live, I was hoping that Simonian would at minimum be able to replicate the sound that made her EP so good. What she did was much better than anyone who was familiar with her music could have anticipated. Though she lamented that she was rusty after her layoff from live performances, Simonian’s vocals not only sounded great and pitch perfect, but the songs were better than live than the recorded versions. Like songstresses like Amy Winehouse and Adele, you wouldn’t expect strong R&B-styled vocals to come from someone like Simonian. Her appearance is deceiving: the girls has a lot of soul and isn’t afraid to bear it to live audience.
Usually at a small venue people come to see their friends and will leave shortly after they leave the stage. This night, everyone was glued to their seats and paid close attention to the singer. It was surprising that no one spoke or stood up during the singer’s set. It was eerily quiet, which demonstrated to me that there were as focused on her lyrics as they were her musicianship. Sometimes a crowd’s silence can intimidate a musician, but Simonian relished their attentiveness and played to this with witty comments a
Standout songs included a cover of “Valerie,” which said is one of her favorite songs and a new composition, “Karma.” If the new songs are anything like the aforementioned one, then we’re in for a quite a treat when her album is released. For now, we’ll have to settle for a standout, stripped down, live show that combines Simonian’s technical prowess and pop sensibilities. If Simonian’s deeply personal lyrics and sharp musicianship can be reflected on her album, and if Tuesday night is an indicator to the magnetic pull of her personality, then I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s able to gain some traction on a larger scale.