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NITE JEWEL at SXSW Music Festival. March 16, 2012. Rating: NNNNN
Her new material is a step forward from the hazy, lo fi pop of her first album, 2009's excellent Good Evening. She's fine tuned her sound, took out the reverb on her amazing voice, and added a professional gloss to her tunes. It's great, especially on the dancefloor hit One Second Of Love.
But it's too slick in other places. Her experiments in funk only half work. And she goes in so many different directions on the album it comes off as patchy.
In a live setting, all that criticism goes out the window. Because she's phenomenal.
The charming Angelino singer, whose government name is Ramona Gonzalez, pulls off a sort of hazy, bedroom disco that's hard not to fall in love with. She sounds like a feminine, more accessible Roxy Music.
That's because, playing live, she's stripped off the more high-end production of One Second Of Love and stepped back into the fuzzy, reverb-drenched New Wave of her first album.
And unlike last year at this same festival, she zeroed in on playing woozy, anthemic love songs, perfect for the back yard patios and darkened clubs she's playing here.
I like that her songs sound like dreams, but Nite Jewel is always singing about real life. She's clever and jealous on She's Always Watching You, and then taking the temperature of her marriage on other songs like This Story and Memory, Man.
Watching her dance around, flip her hair everywhere while playing her synth and singing these songs somehow makes the experience all the more human.