It was easy to feel like you were eavesdropping at Ingrid Michaelson’s headlining debut at the Troubadour. “We are breakable girls and boys,” she sang early on, a theme she returned to throughout the 70-minute set. Michaelson is the latest performer to gain prominence through MySpace and her emotionally unguarded songs, sung in a wry, little girl voice not unlike Regina Spektor, could be blog entries set to music.
Tunes such as “Breakable” and “The Hat” (from her self-released “Girls and Boys”) are discursive looks at relationships, doting on the color of a hat or the crunch of the snow. They’ve made her the current go-to girl for music supervisors — her songs have been prominently featured on “Grey’s Anatomy,” and on ads for Old Navy, which probably accounted for the DIY songstress’ sold out perf.
What it couldn’t account for is her aud’s rapt reception. Michaelson has an approachable quality. With her lank hair and glasses, she looks likes the girl they sit next to at the coffee shop, chatting about boys and music. She is a talkative performer, which adds immensely to her charm. And her fans hold on her every word, whether she’s talking about her iPod’s dying battery, the cruelty of YouTube comments, or that day’s trip down the coast. She’s helped immensely by having Allie Moss — whose guitar and lovely voice act as a Greek chorus — as a sounding board.
Their patter serves as a counterpoint to Michaelson’s often wintry songs. A guitarist, bass player and drummer, who joined her for the light bossa-nova of “The Way I Am,” added some oomph and warmth. But Michaelson saved her most optimistic songs for the end. “All we can do is keep breathing,” she sang in the set’s penultimate song, before returning for a gently rendered cover of Elvis Presley’s hit “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”