Leaving the rain and wind outside the doors, the Big Room Bar was bustling with people ensconced there for the music and camaraderie. Although there were three bands playing this evening, the opening act was the reason I was here.
Mary Lynn (vocals/keyboards) was accompanied by her bandmates Joe Camerlengo (guitar/vocals), Corey Montgomery (bass/vocals) and Jeremy Skeen (drums). They were playing out live for the first time in over two months.
Taking her place at center stage, flanked by Joe and Corey, the diminutive Mary Lynn greeted the assembled crowd with a warm smile and thanked them all for coming out to the show.
Launching into the fast-paced Only Human from her debut album, she set the pace with the pounding of her fingers on the keyboard. Both guitarists were bouncing in-time with the beat of the drums, all the while driving the groove. Her voice grew with intensity as she pleaded that “we put too much on our shoulders anyway…”
One might think the juxtaposition of Mary Lynn’s lyrical stories of self-doubt, vulnerability and honesty when coupled with the upbeat, almost happy tone of the music would not necessarily fit together all that well. But, they made it work beautifully.
The remainder of her set would come from her 2016 full-length sophomore effort, “My Animal” (Anyway Records).
The crowd began to encircle the stage at the urging of Mary Lynn, swaying to the rhythm of the piano-driven Two and Two. The fuzzed-out and distorted tones emanating from the guitar added a pronounced “rock” feel as it meshed with the pleading of her vocals
Dreamin’ With You is a sub two-minute shuffle that had everyone tapping their toes as she drew the crowd even closer, making all of us feel as though she were speaking to each of us individually.
Camerlengo channeled his inner George Harrison with fuzzy, yet crisp guitar notes, while Mary Lynn worked the keyboard like Paul McCartney on the slower-tempo of The Same. Her emotions built like a wave throughout the song, cresting before the final chorus of “yeah, I must be insane.”
Starting simply, Um put a smile on everyone’s face with its happy melody. Mary Lynn’s emotive vocals made you feel her lyrical despair as she wailed “I tried and I tried and I tried…”
As they got deeper into their set, it was evident that Mary Lynn was feeling more comfortable and relaxed. The harmonizing of Mary, Joe and Corey made Plans the standout song of the evening, even though she took us on a journey through the snow.
Skeen’s drumming on Tough Skin was reminiscent of another Beatle, with that being of the Ringo variety. Building to its climax, Mary let loose with and emotional cry of “I’ll be just fine in a matter of time.”
They closed their set with the upbeat wanderlust of Space. Her shy smile only added to the wonderment of the words “All the spaces between, I don’t know what it means.”
The eight-song set was concise, drawing all but one song from Mary Lynn’s second album. All the songs had a familiar, yet more lively feel to them in this live setting.
The songs also showed more depth with the fuzzy distortion of Camerlengo’s guitar. Montgomery’s bass and Skeen’s drumming show they are accustomed to keeping the songs from straying too far from the norm.
Despite the self-doubt, her voice conveys hope. And when it comes right down to it, that is exactly what makes these songs work very well.
I would recommend seeing Mary Lynn live, as you will most assuredly be as pleasantly surprised as I was.
Mary Lynn next plays live on Saturday, March 25 at Double Happiness.
- Only Human
- Two and Two
- Dreamin’ With You
- The Same
- Tough Skin