One of the major themes that’s stuck in my thinking over the last year and a half is the question of whether or not the contemporary social order has room for love.
Copresented by Empty Bottle Presents
Tom Krell, a.k.a. How To Dress Well, lands at MCA Stage to showcase music from his new album What Is This Heart?. In contrast to his 2012 release Total Loss and its haunting, glacial neo-soul, What Is This Heart? takes an honest and emotionally confident approach, creating a space of spiritual fragility, fearless love and sexuality, deep pain, and overwhelming joy.
An intriguing songwriter and producer, Krell brings a gorgeous falsetto with fractured R&B-influenced beats. He describes his tastes as being “omnivorous,” and cites Spiritualized, Lou Reed, Prince, Everything but the Girl, and PM Dawn as recent listenings. Drawing upon his strength as a writer and performer, Krell creates music that forms a coherent and immediately identifiable whole.
Opening for How to Dress Well is singer, songwriter, and guitarist Julie Byrne. In her first album, Rooms With Walls and Windows, Byrne blends psychedelic and traditional folk elements to create a highly personal and quietly mystical musical world.
About the Artists
How To Dress Well is the stage name of songwriter and producer Tom Krell. Krell’s career began in 2009 when, having just moved from Brooklyn to Berlin, his songs began to emerge online via digital EPs posted in anonymity on his blog. His instinctive ear for subtly devastating melody and elements of noise, sound collage, and avant-garde composition are both conceptually strong and emotionally resonant. Since the releases of Love Remains in 2010 and Total Loss in 2012, he has emerged as one of America’s most original and beguiling young songwriters, influencing the shape of experimental pop music.
In speaking about his most recent album, Krell has explained: “This is at once my most extremely personal and most universal record yet. I’ve always believed that in the deepest part of each of our hearts, there where each of us are most specifically ourselves and no one else. . . we are actually as close as possible to what is universally human. I think that in asking this question we can go to that place: this is how and why I’ve asked myself, ‘What is this Heart?'”
The music of Julie Bryne has been described by MOJO magazine as “hushed and mysterious. Close-miked within the natural reverb of windowless rooms, utilising fingerpicked nylon-stringed guitar and Byrne’s rich sequestered voice, they unfold from bare folk simplicity to abstracted tales of home life and longing that conjure up a simultaneous feeling of warm cabin intimacy and a deep interior sadness.”