Following the success of last year’s “More Adventurous,” the members of Rilo Kiley decided to step back for a moment and work on a smaller scale: Singer Jenny Lewis recorded the intimately spiritual “Rabbit Fur Coat” with Watson Twins while guitarist Blake Sennett reconvened his side project, the Elected, whose “Sun, Sun, Sun” will be released Tuesday on Sup Pop. At the Troubadour, Sennett and the Elected kicked off their tour with a set that shared the album’s understated charm.
The common bloodline with Rilo Kiley is obvious in the songs’ arcing melodies drawn from girl groups and torchy country ballads, but the Elected put those melodies in a more rustic 1970s country rock context (although the evening’s most classically country music came when Lewis joined Sennett for the weepy duet “It Was Love”). Songs such as “Did Me Good” and “I’ll Be Your Man” have a kind of round-heeled, stubble-chinned casualness, and with Sennett’s quivery vocals, the Elected sound like a Laurel Canyon version of Bright Eyes.
Taking the stage wearing a soft hat, his wide collar points outside his jacket and sporting a seedy moustache, Sennett looks like a yacht rock refugee; while a couple of songs veer too close the Doobie Brothers, Mike Bloom’s lap steel guitar often insinuates it’s way through a song in lines reminiscent of “All Things Must Pass” era George Harrison and drummer Ryland Steen keeps things moving at a brisk pace and the set ends with a coda of “Whole Lotta Love” appended onto “Biggest Star.”
The appealingly fresh Lavender Diamond is fronted by performance artist Becky Stark, whose breathily ingenuous patter and optimistic sweetness is reminiscent of Miranda July. But there’s no sense of ironic distance in Stark’s performance. Her childlike homespun songs put one in mind of neo-folkies such as Devendra Banheart (who Lavender Diamond share a split 7-inch single, they have also have a self-released EP).