Snail Mail review – vulnerability and honesty from teen indie rocker

Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Despite some teething problems on her first major tour, Lindsey Jordan delivers emotive anthems with lyrical flair

Lindsey Jordan AKA Snail Mail already has an acclaimed album, Lush, and is touring the world before she’s even out of her teens. The Maryland-based 19-year-old has found a rich seam of songwriting in the period of upheaval as a teenager confronts adulthood. She sings about trends, friends, disastrous house parties, wild crushes and devastating breakups with raw candour. Her crystalline guitar playing and contemporary slacker indie sound finds her somewhere between the Cranberries, Taylor Swift and the similarly emerging Sophie Allison, AKA Soccer Mommy.

This gig begins awkwardly, though, with the singer-guitarist making signs at the soundman for more volume from her microphone. “Are my vocals OK?” Jordan asks, grinning and raising thumbs aloft as the crowd answer in the affirmative. The sound level is fine, but – presumably not yet accustomed to the rigours of heavy touring – her usually honeyed vocals sound slightly hoarse. It’s a shame that her cracking drawl makes it harder to make out her words: we really need to hear lines like Pristine’s cathartic “Is there any better feeling than coming clean?”

Even below par, it’s still hard to deny the hooks and emotion in Speaking Terms, Heat Wave and the country-tinged Deep Sea. There’s a lovely communal moment when she forgets the lyrics to a cover of Semisonic’s Closing Time and the crowd choir helps her out. She’ll do better gigs, but once or twice, her croakier tones actually emphasise the pained vulnerabilities in her lyrics, and when she stands without her band to belt out the aural bruise of Anytime with raw power, the effect is magical.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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