In 2013, I saw a couple of concerts by Cross Record, a group led by the promising Chicago singer-songwriter Emily Cross. (See my blog posts about her shows in January 2013 at Township and in August 2013 at the Double Door.) But then she bid Chicago farewell, moving to Austin, Texas. Cross Record made a welcome return on Saturday, April 30, playing a short but haunting set of new music at Schubas. Cross’ bandmate is her husband Dan Duszynski, who played guitar and drums and other musical gear, sculpting a distinct sounds for each song. Cross Record’s new album, Wabi-Sabi, has a loose, experimental air about it, with Cross’ breathy, ethereal vocals floating through the melancholy, introspective tunes. It took just a few listens for these songs to lodge themselves in my mind and heart. The short but lovely concert at Schubas affirmed just how strong these compositions are.
For a Chicagoan, it’s always sad to see a good musician moving away from the city. Saturday night at the Double Door was one of these bittersweet occasions. Emily Cross, a talented singer-songwriter who makes beautiful and ethereal music under the name Cross Record, played at the Double Door, just before heading to her new home in Austin, Texas, along with her fiancé and bandmate, Dan Duszynski. On Saturday, Duszynski played a separate with his own band, Any Kind, and then it was Cross’ turn to rule the stage. Her music is gaining strength in concert, and she seems bound to continue making great music. Let’s hope she visits Chicago often. Listen to Cross Record’s music at bandcamp.
Cross Record — the stage name for Chicago singer and musician Emily Cross — plays an intriguing mix of folk songs with ambient and drone textures on its album Be Good, which you can stream at bandcamp. Songs that might pass for early Cat Power or Sharon Van Etten are embellished with echoes and moody washes of keyboards, or even an epic sense of drama, as on the song “Dirt Nap.” The record sometimes has the sound of a performer who’s playing by herself, with looping pedals as her only accompaniment.
Emily Cross played, with a backing band, on Thursday (Jan. 24) at Township. It was a solid performance, although the music wasn’t quite as spooky or evocative in these live arrangements. Still, Cross’ voice and guitar playing made it clear she’s a talent to watch. For the final song of the night, she switched to clarinet and giggled a bit as she covered the Chris Isaak song “Wicked Game.”