SWIMM’S Chris Hess and Lauren Ruth Ward Conclude Aging Actress Club Tee Gee Residency Don't Miss Out On Their July 30th Gig At Gold Diggers!
LOS ANGELES, CA- Collaborations in the music biz can be hit or miss, but either way it’s always an interesting journey to see how two creative minds who have their own distinct musical identities and voices meld together for a unified effort. Aging Actress is a side project of SWIMM’s Chris Hess (aka “Cookie”) and Lauren Ruth Ward. Aging Actress hits.
I’ve been a big fan of both Chris and Lauren Ruth Ward’s main projects for some time now, and have been to many of their respective shows. For the most part, their performances have been energy infused exhibitions of unbridled charisma. With Aging Actress, an “acoustic” act, both Chris and Lauren get the opportunity to dig deep into the more tender and emotional nuances of their vocal range and ability … and man, it’s a lovely thing to experience.
On June 30th, I was able to attend the last date for their residency at Club Tee Gee. After the evening’s affair, I instantly regretted not being able to attend the prior two dates.
Kicking off the music for the night was Anna Ash, a singer-songwriter whose folk-leaning compositions take advantage of her dulcet vocals. She almost lulls you into a dream-like state as she casually strums her electric guitar and gazes into the audience with contemplative eyes.
This was my first time listening to Anna’s music, but I got the sense that her music was rooted in raw emotions, focusing on those that pull on heartstrings in particular. I was instantly drawn into her soothing, yet heartbroken, sounds and that was enough to make me purchase a vinyl copy of her 2016 Floodlights.
After a few spins of Floodlights, I realized that what makes Anna’s music particularly intriguing is the simplicity of it all. Like her live performance, her records are no-frills productions- typically just an electric guitar and drums, with sparse additional instrumentation- that allows her voice and stories to shine through. It’s the most revealing kind of performance and recordings; the kind that really gives you a direct look into the soul of a singer.
It had been a while since the last time I had seen Emma Cole perform live, so getting the chance to see her perform some stripped-down new music at Club Tee Gee was an added treat.
The last time I saw her perform, she was performing music off her last solo EP, the retro-soul/R&B infused If You Don’t Holler, No One Will Hear. It’s a high powered, fierce album and when performed with a full band and cadre of back up singers, the performance elicited the same kind of energy on stage. At Club Tee Gee, Emma’s performance was without a full backing band, as she was only accompanied by a keyboardist (and for one song, accompanied by Lauren Ruth Ward on back up vocals).
The music that Emma performed leaned more laid-back soul than rock and roll or rhythm & blues. I personally thought that the music, and this performance, allowed Emma’s resonant voice to really shine. I also got to see Emma really pour her heart into the longing melodies that she had written.
I’m not sure whether the music Emma performed was written for her solo repertoire or for her new musical endeavor with Gigi Lyn (the duo GMNII), but I’m quite intrigued to hear how she fleshes out the arrangements of these songs. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.
If you would have asked me to pick local, fantasy duet partners for both Chris and Lauren, I don’t think I would have come up with Lauren and Chris respectively. I would have leaned towards someone like Cherry Glazerr’s Clementine Creevy for Chris and Rival Sons’ Jay Buchanan for Lauren just based on their general musical aesthetics. I’m not sure how Chris and Lauren connected with each other, but thank the gods that they did, cause when they sing together, it’s a little bit of heaven on earth.
The performance I attended at Club Tee Gee was the third and final date of their residency there, and I was simply gobsmacked by how absolutely wonderful they sounded singing together. Chris’ deceptively fragile tenor and Lauren’s raspy, rockin’ voice compliment each other perfectly.
Their “acoustic” (they were accompanied by Wolf Bay on a couple of songs and a saxophonist on another) set consisted of a handful of originals, a cover of Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass” (which they apparently learned at midnight the evening before) and duet versions of their own songs (SWIMM’s “Speak Politely” and Lauren’s “Did I Offend You”). The stripping down of songs, coupled with Chris and Lauren’s sweet two-part harmonies during hooks and choruses, was some of the loveliest, and purest, music I had heard in a while.
Early in the set, Lauren made it a point to acknowledge the fact that she and Chris can make good music together because she feels safe around him. She doesn’t have to worry about any ulterior motives when they are working together, as music is their only focus. It’s that trust which is at the crux of Aging Actress, and it’s something that I think gives the partnership a little something extra that makes their music sound 1000% authentic and genuine.
Aging Actress is scheduled to perform at Gold Diggers on July 30th. If you can make it out on a weekday, I suggest that you head on out. Who knows how much more they’ll be performing together.
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