strangers illuminated

Whitney Mann is an artist I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know not through recordings but in a live setting. Her voice is unique – cavernous but able to blow you down, vulnerable but still strong as an old oak tree. Mann scoops under the notes and overturns them, creating a series of surprise attacks.

On her latest EP, This Little Light of Mine, Mann lets her voice step just outside the spotlight and lets tradition take center stage. The familiar title track is impeccably arranged, turning a song that’s been heard a million times before into something new and exciting. Mann gets back to her own roots with the instrumental closer “Stroll Through the Park”, a track that reintroduces her childhood playing piano to her songwriting process.

The EP’s stunner is “The Cruelest Thing”. The song is all but guaranteed to be stuck in your head for days and pulls the punches that those who’ve seen Whitney Mann perform live have come to expect. While there are some gutsy hollers, it’s the first lines of the verses that pull themselves back, revealing the plumb line of defeat that anchors the louder frustration of a love gone cold.

This Little Light of Mine dropped 11.20.12.
Find out more about Whitney Mann at her official website.

project lodge forever

Last Saturday the Majestic in Madison, WI played host to the Project Lodge Benefit Show featuring Julian Lynch, All Tiny Creatures, Icarus Himself, Whitney Mann, and Anna Vogelzang. For those unacquainted with The Project Lodge:

Project Lodge is a home for creators and explorers. Our small storefront on the near East side of Madison serves as an art gallery, performance space, and de facto community center for artists, musicians, filmmakers, authors, and anyone else interested in collaborating towards a thriving creative culture in Madison. We are all ages, 100% volunteer-powered, and completely donation-driven.

The five-band bill moved along swiftly – a decent set from everyone and not a whole lot of downtime (truly living the dream). Anna Vogelzang kicked off the night, her lovely voice and banjo bolstered by upright bass and cello. Next up was Whitney Mann, joined by Allen and Amanda Rigell of Count This Penny. Mann’s voice could easily knock over a linebacker, but she’s got a great sense of when to reign it in and when to belt away.

Transitioning from the country slant of the first two acts was Icarus Himself. Super-solid as usual, I can’t say enough good things about them. All Tiny Creatures put together a great set – interesting drumming, and an overall sound somewhere between indie and jam but sounding like neither genre. ATC was a nice segue to Julian Lynch, who similarly tiptoes around the outside of the indie-rock box.

In all, it was nice to see a solid block of hometown talent, the cornerstone to the success of The Project Lodge. If you want to support The Project Lodge but were unable to make the benefit (or you came to the show and want to give more), check out the ProLo’s Kickstarter campaign.

For more photos from the evening, click here.