Live Review: Snail Mail @ The Novo, January 23, 2019

It’s hardly a secret that the indie singer-songwriter space is being dominated by talented females these days. Right there among the front of the pack is Lindsey Jordan, who records under the name Snail Mail. Her live band is currently a study four-piece rock unit–rhythm section of Alex Bass & Ray Brown alongside a new gal on guitar whose name I didn’t catch.  Looking smart in all black in her first return to L.A. proper (not counting Coachella ’18) since a pair of sold out shows at the Bootleg Theater last summer, she held the stage with confidence and real presence, effortlessly crushing her well-oiled set. 

On the bill alongside Brooklyn art punk lads Parquet Courts at The Novo (separate review forthcoming), the show felt like a co-headline, with an eager crowd packed in on the floor for her early opening set—no mean feat getting to downtown for an 8:00 pm start on a weeknight, compounded further by extra traffic for the Elton John show next door at Staples Center. Her fans responded with approval at the start of each new song in the set, comprised from her acclaimed debut LP, Lush.

The range of her songs’ arrangements is wider than that of many of her peers’ and becomes even more pronounced in the live setting where the songs open up and her guitar playing really shines. She can do slower and downer, as on “Stick” (tonight’s set closer, performed in the solo guitar version from her early e.p.) but she and her band easily do sunny, driving indie jangle (as on “Pristine”) and can jam fuzzy noise (as on “Heat Wave,” the set opener). Lindsey’s voice can leap out of the mix, belying her stature, her elongated vowels ramp up the octave, at times conjuring Bjork (a bit). Her lyrics are uncommonly self aware and introspective, lots of asking questions of oneself, but never lapsing into self pity. All the more impressive considering she turns 20 this year. 

Lush was so strong and seemingly effortless, that it’s easy to want more from her immediately. But it’s only been six months since it dropped, so it may be a while before we get new music. The band is “on tour forever!” (as her Spotify page declares). They’re booked for a series of shows and festivals and massive support slots for the likes of Interpol and Bon Iver into the year.

Snail Mail |