One of the appeals of Everything but the Girl’s folk/pop style — their string and horn arrangements with splashes of jazz — distinguishes them from many of their colleagues.
Unfortunately, their acoustic show, backing new Atlantic album, “Amplified Heart,” didn’t allow for that part of the music to shine, leaving a more musically generic impression. It did, however, display the duo’s other beauties: Tracey Thorn’s brilliant voice and the duo’s thoughtful lyrics and impeccable harmonies.
Thorn, the central-most part of the project, sang with her sensual, cooling croon. But although Thorn’s angelic voice must be one of pop’s most pleasing, at times her mild phrasing and dynamics seemed inappropriate for the poignancy of the lyrics. In fact, the duo’s myriad of emotions were oft met with ostensibly one musical expression on Thorn’s part — shy melancholia — resulting in some mismatch of music and words and a seemingly unexplored potential. With a little more passion, where called for, Thorn could easily blow the roof off of the industry.
At times, such as on newer songs, “Walking to You” and “25th December,” Watt did lead vocals while playing guitar. And while his dynamics reached deeper, his voice hasn’t the distinctiveness or the compelling quality of hers. Their harmonies, however, are inescapably contagious.
EBTG’s songs are simple, peaceful, ambient. While melodically clever, they stay within the lines of general folk rock, not too challenging, not too fancy.
Especially charming, the duo were demure and unpretentious. Watt added spontaneous light humor between songs and has a special ability to personally connect with the audience.