Leslie Feist isn't the kind of artist who lets her freak flag fly, preferring instead to softly beckon onlookers to come closer, then closer still -- before revealing that fabric with an impeccable sense of wonder.
Leslie Feist isn’t the kind of artist who lets her freak flag fly, preferring instead to softly beckon onlookers to come closer, then closer still — before revealing that fabric with an impeccable sense of wonder. At Town Hall, Feist was at her best when ratcheting down the volume — and the emotional tenor — of her songs, particularly those from her just-released Interscope set “The Reminder.” That title is indicative of the sense of memory she calls up in her lyrics, which she delivered with a mixture of regret and wistful sensuality that wafted its way over the aud like a faintly sweet and vaguely narcotic cloud.
The effect was most profound on the waltz-time two-fer “The Water” and “The Park,” the latter of which featured a bird-call interlude provided by an aud member. Both tunes evinced a wide-eyed but not altogether guileless vibe — a quality that owes a lot to Feist’s distinctive vocal style, which nods to Bjork here and Nico there, but never borrows wholesale from any precursor.
The same could be said for the Canadian singer-songwriter’s onstage persona, which was a bit loopy, but not ostentatiously daffy — particularly when she was delivering pre-song lead-ins to more uptempo offerings like “1,2,3,4.” While perf’s peppier songs were warmly received, they sometimes came across as jarring in the context of the largely introspective whole.
Feist’s emotional nakedness reached its zenith when she gave her workmanlike backing band a short breather and called out Kevin Drew — one of her cohorts in the Broken Social Scene collective — for a stark, piano-led version of that band’s “Lover’s Spit.” Alternately raw and soothing, the paean to sexual abandon conjured up Serge Gainsbourg’s garrulously decadent spirit — a spirit made all the more compelling by the delicacy inherent in a vessel like Feist.
Feist plays the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles on June 29.