New music you really need to hear came to the Observatory in Santa Ana this month via Annie DiRusso’s “God, I Love This Tour” show.
First, headlining in the Constellation Room was Nashville-based indie rocker DiRusso. Her appealing sound — both guitar-driven and melodic, combined with brutally honest lyrics from a distinctly female perspective — has drawn comparisons to 90’s icon Liz Phair. Listening to “Nauseous” and “Frisco Forever” from DiRusso’s new (and first) EP, “God, I Hate This Place,” you hear echoes of that influence. But while Liz Phair exuded a wry, cool girl detachment, Annie’s songs are often tinged with critical self-doubt. She reserves her most lacerating words for herself. From the heartbreaking “Body,” she sings:
He loves my face, but not my body
Should I lose weight, just so he’ll want me
(Though thankfully she answers this question with defiance: “not really one for trying to be who you want me to be.”)
And from “Nine Months”:
And every time I think of you
I hate I didn’t run away
Cause I never thought, I never thought
I’d be thе girl who stayed
Added to this vulnerability, DiRusso’s touring set quite literally invites you in, as it’s decorated as her own colorful bedroom. But despite the recurrent themes of unrequited and otherwise disappointing love, DiRusso’s show is FUN. It’s a raucous slumber party with her high-energy band and devoted fans singing along to every word of her lovely vocals.
And Annie DiRusso wasn’t the only indie Nashville artist bound to hook you into their music that night. Opener Hannah Cole brought her own compelling set to the Constellation Room. She took the stage as a voice message from her grandmother played, setting the tone for the personal storytelling to come. The singer-songwriter immediately grabbed the attention of the crowd with the opening strums of her latest release, “Big Bite,” and her angelic voice kept everyone captivated throughout. Personally, I went into the show unfamiliar with Cole, but I’ve been streaming her songs non-stop since, especially the addictive “Guard Dog” and “Nuisance.” Cole also played a couple of unreleased songs, promising a new EP in July that we should all look forward to.
Words & Photos by Molly Riehle