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CMJ 2009: Day 3 - Emmanuel & the Fear + JD Souther + Kim Taylor + Annie & the Beekeepers

Jonathan Kosakow

The CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival invades New York City this week. Here's the latest from PopMatters' writers on the beat.

Emmanuel & the Fear

The Living Room, New York City

It takes a lot of ambition to write rock songs that could serve as the score for a dramatic opera, but Brooklyn’s Emmanuel & the Fear do not shy away from it, nor do they fail to live up to the task. Intricate arrangements for an 11-piece rock orchestra are the driving force behind this band, which provide the groundwork for passionately sung lyrics. After only a year and a half together, it’s quite a feat to be at such a level of talent, and this accidental audience member is glad the Living Room’s schedule ran 45 minutes late so he could catch the show.

JD Souther

The Living Room, New York City

JD Souther is an accomplished songwriter and musician. He has written for countless musicians – from James Taylor to Crosby, Stills & Nash and has hit the top of the Billboard charts. Coming off of a twenty year hiatus, Souther’s songs are beautiful and lasting, but unfortunately his fine-tuned career was no match for an out of tune guitar, missed notes, and shoddy transitions. Whether it was a couple too many drinks or an influx of nerves, Souther did not live up to his reputation last night, and what could have been an impressive performance ended in disappointment.

Kim Taylor

The Living Room, New York City

This soulful singer-songwriter stood amidst the accomodating acoustics of the Living Room and let her soft raspy voice ring. At times backed by an extra guitar, at others by harmonica, and still others by a piano, Kim Taylor sang songs with a country twang not unlike a pre-fame Sheryl Crowe. Unlike many CMJ acts vying for recognition based on rocking performances, she stopped everyone in their tracks with a clean and true voice.

Annie & the Beekeepers

The Living Room, New York City

This is perhaps where scheduling conflicts at CMJ fail certain artists. After a quiet evening of acoustic folk, Annie & the Beekeepers got a chance--an hour late–-to showcase their talents. Unfortunately, not long into the set, a dance beat started next door at the Cake Shop, reverberating through the Living Room's walls. But The Beekeepers did not let the minor distractions sway them, and played their brand of country inspired folk--which combined acoustic guitar, cello and upright bass with smooth vocal harmonies. If only we could have heard the intricacies of their songwriting over the party next-door.

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