VIENNA, VA April, 30, 2012 — A singer/songwriter’s first goal shouldn’t be to set himself apart from his contemporaries, but it’s likely to always be in the back of his mind. It’s not intentional, but the genre has a tendency to produce a number of identical sounding artists, which isn’t altogether surprising. The key to being at least an enjoyable performer isn’t difficult, and definitely leans towards simplicity.
An expressive voice, simple noticeable chords, and relatable lyrics, should allow the audience to connect with the performer. After awhile though, these singer/songwriters start to blend together because even though that simplicity helps in one area, it can also fall into overly familiar territory.
One question during Kina Grannis performance at the 9:30 Club was how did she plan to set herself apart from like minded singer/songwriters?
Kina Grannis was born and raised in Mission Viejo, California. She recorded several independent albums before getting her big break, winning a contest to have her song played during a Doritos commercial at Super Bowl XLII.
Her second independently released full length album Stairwells has received a reasonable amount of recognition since its release last year.
The most noticeable thing about Grannis’ set was it’s simplicity. When she approached the stage to begin the show it was only Grannis and her bass playing touring mate.
Grannis’ set up here is something that doesn’t seem suited for the 9:30 Club, where the large setting makes it difficult to create intimacy, but the reasoning behind it makes sense. The goal is for Grannis to connect with her audience as much as possible, which is something she was able to do on multiple levels.
Kina Grannis plays a relatively simple style of light hearted acoustic guitar. Her songs lean towards the melodramatic, but not so much that she seems over the top or whiney. Often singer/songwriters can misstep and really take on a “woe is me” persona which can easily turn off the audience, something Grannis never does.
One of the reasons she’s able to avoid this pitfall has more to do with her on stage personality than her music. While in front of the crowd, she’s able to affect an easy going and disarming nature, with a hint of self deprecating humor. This is always a good way to loosen up the audience and even if the subject matter is on the heavier side, will allow them to get into the songs easier.
Musically, the high points come when she decides to pick up the pace a little bit. It is not a bad idea to mix up slow and fast songs, but she just provides more energy when she is a bit more up tempo. Of course, the set changed considerably when she covered Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise.” The song is so far from her normal instincts as a musician that it adds a considerable edge to her set.
It’s hard to say if Grannis really separates herself from the average singer/songwriters, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. She’s still young, but she’s been doing this long enough that it’s not surprising how well she keeps the audience engaged.
It is an important step to make as she continues to expand her sound.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.