When: Thu., Jan. 24, 9 p.m. 2013
As Cross Record, Chicagoan Emily Cross tiptoes along the line between experimental ambient drone and soft-spoken acoustic indie folk—assuming there’s a line there in the first place. Though the south Florida transplant has a delicate, soulful voice that most singer-songwriters would sell their Martin guitars for, her ambition makes her much more than just another ignorable cafe strummer: she often contorts and layers her singing to create a dark, tense atmosphere that’s more likely to elicit a chill down the spine than a gentle sway of the hips. On last year’s Be Good (Lay Flat), she seamlessly shifts from the fluttering, mostly acoustic “Maybe I’m Crazy” to the gloomy, trudging “Dirt Nap,” a goth-touched epic that would turn Michael Gira’s head. The album’s nine haunting songs are more expansive than much of her earlier work, perhaps because she recruited a host of other players to help build her labyrinths of hard-to-identify creaks and galunks. Whatever comes next is going to be good, I promise. Cross performs with a backing band tonight. —Kevin Warwick Great Life and Nat Brooke open.