Azita | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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If I didn't know better I might think Azita Youssefi was trying to slough off her old fans. Beginning with Enantiodromia (Drag City, 2003) the former leader of the Scissor Girls started producing a structurally and harmonically complex strain of art-pop that sounded nothing like the screeching post-no-wave of her earlier stuff and quite a bit like the elegant, precise work of Steely Dan--a development that might've seemed absurd if she hadn't pulled it off so well. Last year Azita set lyrics by playwright and director Brian Torrey Scott to music, creating a live sound track for his theater piece Detail From the Mountain Side, and subsequently recorded the five tunes for a superb EP of the same name. It's less intricate than her two previous solo albums, but her singing is more self-contained and assured, and the more direct arrangements (ranging from the overtly pretty "Intro" to the surprisingly garagey stomper "Tangly") allow the listener to focus on the melodies, which are stronger than ever. She'll be singing and playing as many as eight new songs, with lyrics mostly by Scott, in his next production, Year, when it premieres September 8 as part of the Rhinoceros Theater Festival; tonight's solo set, she says, will feature plenty of unrecorded material. The Cairo Gang and A Light Sleeper open. Thu 8/24, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8 in advance, $10 at the door.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Azita Youssefi.

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