I had my reservations about how "digital soul" would translate into a live musical experience with a three piece -- Barra, along with a guitar player and a drummer -- but the keyboard-playing crooner pulled it off with expertise and conviction as she worked the 2 p.m. crowd up into a little hip-shakin' frenzy. To read an interview with Barra, go here; she will play Bar Deluxe in Salt Lake City Friday, Jan. 27.
"We are about to make more noise than this room is prepared for," Barra said as she took the stage. Decked out in a black leather dress, the digi-diva started things off with "Skyline," from her 2011 release Illusions.
Despite her young age, Barra is no doubt savvy in the ways of business, and used the ASCAP opportunity to tell some quick anecdotes and build a rapport (hopefully for her, with some industry hotshots). Before playing Illusions' first single, "Good Man," she mentioned that she shot the video two weeks ago -- the cinematographer helped on a film, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, that is currently showing at Sundance.
Barra worked her sample pads on "Good Man" as she stepped out from behind the keys to take center stage and triggered a sound bigger than the three piece could make. I will always prefer live instruments for a live experience, but Barra's digital doodling wasn't a distraction, and the tunes sounded as good as they do on her album.
She then worked into "Magician," her pessimistic rendition of the Marvelettes' song. It is sonically tense -- and filled with auto-tune (ew) -- and comes near the climax of Illusions, which is a conceptual album about the rise and fall of a relationship.
"Oh Yeah" a brand-new tune about Barra's frustration with the music industry followed, then "Lucid Dreams" closed out the short, energetic set. Barra was a fine representation of Utah, showing out-of-towners that it's not all green Jell-O and the Training Table.