Eliza Rickman (photo: Patric Carver)
The Lost Church defines itself as an “intimate” venue. From the moment you walk in, you realize that the Lost Church not only defines itself as intimate, but that it defines the very concept of intimacy itself. A newly christened 501(c)(3) charity, the Lost Church is a performance space in the living room of a repurposed living space. Only seating about 65 people by my count, the space between performers and audience was impossibly thin, both in terms of physical distance and emotional barriers.
The first performer of the night, Texan Jacob Metcalf, was impossibly charming, with Paul Rudd levels of affability and then smile to match. He, too, was taken by the Lost Church, saying, “I did not know what I stepped into when I came in here…but I liked it.” Normally, the one-man singer-songwriter outfit doesn’t do much for me, but Metcalf’s self-referential humor blended with honestly solid craftsmanship as a songwriter won me over. I think the difference is that, rather than singing about adventures crafted only in his mind, Metcalf has led a storied life and chooses to sing more so about the absurdity of the mundane that everyone can identify with – like the time he set off for a tour, only to realize while 3,500 feet in the air that his debit card and money was all still in a kitchen drawer back home. Most people have had some instance in their life majorly interrupted by the temporary absence of access to a three-inch piece of plastic that is the gatekeeper to all our wealth. For a few songs, Metcalf was joined on stage by trumpeter and fellow Texan Dan Bowman. Bowman’s horn leant a little weight to the otherwise playful, romantic, and sweet set. Metcalf’s set was all-around an enjoyable listen.
Continuing with the theme of self-referential humor, comedian Natasha Muse
warmed up the crowd after intermission. Muse started her set with, “My name is Natasha Muse. I’m pretty funny,” while appearing to still be gazing at her cell phone screen. That’s a pretty good reference point for how her entire set rolled out. She was either genuinely working off-the-cuff with no prepared material for the bulk of her show or doing a strikingly good imitation of a comedian working on the fly. Either way, she was funny. She made several for-nerd-ears-only references that sent half the audience rolling including a reference to Scott Capurro’s minimal appearance in Star Wars: Episode I. Reading her audience, Muse brought everyone on board with the quip, “What? How does a reference to The Phantom Menace not kill?” Good stuff.
The darling of the evening, though, was the charming Eliza Rickman. If you want to imagine Ms. Rickman, just think of Snow White with a foul mouth and living with the crushing reality of having to pay rent. Surrounded by a trio on strings, Rickman’s tra-la-la voice was as strong as it is sweet. With sharp-tongued lyrics wrapped in satin, Eliza’s sound could be visualized as a jar of honey . . . with some flies stuck inside. For example, Pretty Little Head, her most well-known song, is a little ditty about Marie Antoinette seeking her post-guillotine noggin. The timbre of this song, even with its swelling moments, is as saccharine as morning songbird’s repertoire, but the content of the song is pure Madame Defarge. There’s something very familiar about Rickman’s work, but it is also strikingly new. Rickman, who is currently preparing to release an album of covers, managed to be original even when covering someone else’s tunes. She did a supple cover of Nick Cave’s “Into my Arms” and a fascinatingly feathery rendition of Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” If you’re the type of person who likes unicorns but is slightly annoyed that everyone else does, too, Rickman is probably right up your alley.
All in all, it was a beautiful evening at the Lost Church. Charming, funny, and fascinating, the Church provided all its parishioners needed.