SHANNON LAY + LAEL NEALE + CHAD UBOVICH + ENTRANCE @ THE ECHO
Photos by Danny Hernandez Words by Madison Desler
A brisk wind snapped through Los Angeles, the onset of winter for our temperate climate finally up us. It made the intimate Echo feel even cozier as folks shearling-lined coats and sturdy boots shook of the cold with booze and conversation. It was the perfect atmosphere for catching some of the best singer-songwriters that Los Angeles currently has on offer, giving the evening an open-mic feel and sense of discovery.
After Chad Ubovich of Meatbodies and the ethereal Lael Neale played their respective sets, the crowd was properly primed for the magic of Shannon Lay, the hard rockin’ guitarist from the stellar garage-punk-pop band Feels who moonlights as a Kevin Morby-endorsed singer-songwriter—releasing her stunning second LP, Living Water, on Morby’s new Mare imprint with Woodsist Records.
Her signature, neon-orange hair was braided and topped with a black hat as she took to the stage with a pair of guitars and a violinist. Switching back and forth between her electric and acoustic instruments, she wove a spell over 13 tracks with her pastoral fingerpicking and crystalline voice. “Home” sounded like clear, cold water, the fidelity of her voice to the sound on record completely uncanny. “All This Life Going Down”—the title track off her solo debut—was filled with subtle ebbs and flows—her power gently building until we were completely swept away.
The lilting melody of “Give It Up,” a song about release, danced beautifully with the elegant violin as Lay sang, “You’re trying too hard/You’re holding on too tight”—a sentiment that’s properly aligned with the unfussy, unadorned music that seemed to effortlessly flow from her. Her sound is timeless, hard to place, and has the same universal, Vashti Bunyan quality that will make Shannon Lay a hidden gem that music fans are thrilled to discover 20 or 30 years from now.
“I’m gonna go right to the front so I can cry and shit while she plays,” one fan said as he left a banquet for the stage. He had his eyes closed for most of the set, well under the same hypnotic spell as the rest of the place—which seemed suspended like insects in amber. At the very end of the set, the sequence of the “The Moons Detriment,” “Recording 15,” and a stunning cover of the Kris Kristofferson-penned “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” was pure magic. You could feel the room’s heart-rate slow and the breathing deepen—shaken back to reality only when Lay played her final note.
The show was closed by Entrance.