Feminine mystique: Gravity missing at Gravity

Kathy Compton, Ezra Hamilton & Alexandra Scott
at Gravity Lounge
Saturday, May 29

I had only the faintest glimmering of what to expect when I descended into the Gravity Lounge for Kathy Compton's mostly solo performance. Her latest CD, Gentle Ravings under a Martian Sky, features a full backing band and is at least partly driven by interesting computer-generated textures and tones, though her songs do shine out under the light gloss as sweet and catchy pop tunes, a genre I have particular affection for in my embarrassed heart.

First up for the evening, though, was singer/songwriter Alexandra Scott, a slip of a girl who seemed quite at home on Gravity Lounge's sizeable stage. Beginning with a song by Graham Parsons, Scott instantly showed off her nice but not flashy guitar playing and strong but slightly stereotypical female folk voice (Tanya Donelly from Belly might be a comparison some would get).

I think it has something to do with the lack of smoking (a stimulant) inside the club, but everyone had a sort of lazy quietness about them, like they had all been out plowing the fields all day, or some other rustic activity, instead of the reality– driving their SUVs to ACAC. "To be good, to be brave, to stop cutting myself" went a line from Scott's first original tune of the night, which was nonetheless a cheery folk/pop tune.

Scott's fourth song was my favorite, instantly catching me with the opening line, "Of all the people who come to your shows, I'm the one who knows all the words," but the audience of course loved song six, "I want a boy who knows how to f*** / Who can f*** for longer than one or two minutes." I liked the tune, in fact it was catchy enough for me to be humming it the next day, but as my companion for the evening so eloquently pointed out, "Female folk singers can only seem to go lyrically from discoveries of love to feminist posturing– like we've never heard the word "f***" in a song before."

Kathy Compton took the stage next, electric guitar in tow, and proceeded to play a set of airy numbers in which jazz chords played a prominent role and the singer's thick voice skated up and down her fine range.

"Some may say..." prompted a kick in the shins from my friend, followed by a "I love this song," followed by the old longing, head-tilted gaze that "Can't Help Falling In Love" has been producing since Elvis performed it in Blue Hawaii.

Local luminary Ezra Hamilton was up shortly after this tune and contributed his fabulous smoky voice and intricate guitar weavings to the next few numbers– it was fascinating seeing how Hamilton's presence added a weight to Compton's songs that had been missing before.

Compton's songs were nice, and intermittently catchy, but did not particularly grab me– even my friend, for whom Scott's manifestation of the "female folk singer stereotype" prompted a table-pounding moment, had not much to say about the rest of the show.

Kathy Compton and Ezra Hamilton