Nina Nastasia, Delicately Rising Above the Din
A sparsely attended show is usually the most intimate atmosphere to enjoy a quiet artist. Without the inevitable chatter that comes with a larger crowd, the music seems more poignant. New York-based singer-songwriter Nina Nastasia's concert on Thursday night at DC9 seemed likely to be a cozy affair, until the blaring dance beats from the downstairs bar disrupted her serene performance.
Nastasia didn't seem at all rattled. Her composure and concentration carried even such slower songs as the powerful "Counting Up Your Bones." She had the support of a four-piece band for most of her 45-minute set, but she was most entrancing on songs that she performed solo. Her plaintive voice stood out against her swiftly plucked guitar line on "All Your Life," and the melancholy of "Why Don't You Stay Home" was augmented by the simplicity of its arrangement.
Her band did help drown out the downstairs din -- sometimes to the detriment of Nastasia's minimalism. The wispy keyboard plinkings that accented "Lee" made her trance-inducing verses seem like unstructured digressions. More often, though, her band added a subtle lushness. The musicians' energy fueled the bouncy "Dumb I Am," while the lulling "Our Day Trip" bolstered the innocent seduction in her lyrics with a delicate instrumental interplay.
-- Catherine P. Lewis
.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 14 October 2006; Page C06