fox-teeth @ Grey Eagle sat. May 30th 2009
Joti Marra is a Jaqueline of all trades, and a master of all of them, but she wouldn’t be the one to tell you that. A classic introvert, Marra is supremely humble regarding the music she creates, and it’s been years since she’s graced a stage in Asheville.
After spending time in New York pursuing a career in fashion, she was drawn back to Asheville for a bevy of reasons, and has now had the clemency to resume sharing her music again, shedding the “My-Fifty Five” moniker in favor of Fox-Teeth, with the help of Angi West and Tyler Ramsey.
At a recent performance at the Grey Eagle, opening up for Floating Action’s CD release show, Marra, West, and Ramsey played a six-song set of layered intricate melodies, featuring Marra’s well-written, succinctly designed lyrics over an array of drum machines, acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, and keys. Marra is alternately tender and raw in her vocal stylings, switching between strong, deliberate lines and elongated airy harmonies. The addition of West on keys and backing vocals contributes a haunting echo to Marra’s siren-esque musical phrasings, and adds just the right amount of polish to the enduring silver of Marra’s songs.
The set featured three songs from My Fifty-Five’s record, slightly re-vamped and, if possible, improved upon, and three newer songs, which demonstrated similar style with a more mature approach to arrangement. “Grey Gold” has a vinatge, sing-songy feel beginning with a simple drum-machine and then fleshing out with West playing full-bodied piano and Ramsey wheedling around on a small Yamaha keyboard set to a Fender Rhodes-ish sound. Marra, singing along with her Old Craftsman 1950’s acoustic guitar, rhythmically channels Patti Smith with lines like “Watch the sky pull the grey curtains in the morning as the light is coming – where will we meet beneath the ceiling of this tempest, a war is coming,” whereas in the grittier-sweet “Jet Black Night,” the PJ Harvey-esque line “why is it you have to break your bones instead of flying” is delivered deliberately, without an ounce of what could be cloying sentiment.
Remarkably, what seems to be a group comprised of a front-woman and her supporters, is actually an amalgam of three, distinctly different solo performers, and when discussing this arrangement, Marra said “I feel so blessed to have two singer-songwriters I really respect backing me up.” West is an accomplished pianist and vocalist who recently released her second album Love is a Special Way of Feeling, and Ramsey, a masterful multi-instrumentalist, has released two solo records, most recently A Long Dream about Swimming across the Sea, and plays guitar in Band of Horses.
The chemistry between the three on stage is unmistakably strong, stemming from a long friendship between West and Marra, and and a strong partnership between Marra and Ramsey, which is evident in the way he watches her while she plays, with both love and admiration.
More info on:
Joti Marra www.myspace.com/myfiftyfive
Angi West www.angiwest.com
Tyler Ramsey www.tylerramsey.com
and more pictures of these lovely folks in a slideshow here.