Emily Wells, the Horse's Ha, LeRoy Bach | Schubas | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Emily Wells, the Horse's Ha, LeRoy Bach Recommended Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Sat., Aug. 22, 10 p.m. 2009

Seven years ago Jim Elkington, front man of the Zincs, and Janet Bean, best known for her roles in Eleventh Dream Day and Freakwater, began working together as a duo. At first they played covers—the Velvet Underground, Tom Waits, Fred Neil—but soon they developed an original repertoire and drafted bassist Nick Macri, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, and drummer Charles Rumback to fill out their plush but restrained folk-jazz sound. Earlier this year the Horse’s Ha—the name comes from a Dylan Thomas story—finally got around to releasing their first album, Of the Cathmawr Yards (Hidden Agenda). Most of the songs are by Elkington, whose elegant melodies benefit greatly from the band’s warm, roomy arrangements and Bean’s lovely singing. His dry, fragile croon might not seem like a natural fit with her sweet post-Emmylou Harris flutter—their vocals have little in common besides their delicacy—but they find ways to make it work, either trading lines or having Bean shadow Elkington’s quavering voice with honeyed softness. The music rarely gets louder than a whisper, but the loose interplay among the musicians, particularly between Rumback’s spacious drumming and Lonberg-Holm’s sorrowful lines, gives it a kind of weight that doesn’t depend on raw volume or brute force. —Peter Margasak

Price: $10, $8 in advance

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