Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Cristina Black has released a new single, titled “Summer’s Over,” now available on iTunes and other digital outlets. Black will celebrate the release at a live performanceonAugust 23 at Hollywood club Room 5 with her Los Angeles-based band, featuring keyboardist Will Canzoneri (Darker My Love, Cass McCombs), drummer Garrett Ray (Fool’s Gold, Cass McCombs) and cellist April Guthrie (Seawolf, Spiritualized). Black will lead the band on harp, piano and baritone ukulele, playing selections from her debut album The Ditty Sessions-featuring Big Star’s Alex Chilton on bass-as well as the new song and as-yet-unreleased material. Attendees will receive a free download of “Summer’s Over” using a promo code to be distributed at the venue.
Produced by Rob Laufer (Fiona Apple, Frank Black) the lush sonic landscape on “Summer’s Over” places Black in a category with melancholy masters like Lana Del Rey and Richard Hawley. “I wanted to recapture that sobering last-night-of-summer-camp feeling,” says Black of the lovelorn ballad, “when it’s time to go back home, back to school, back to the grind, and perhaps kiss a lover goodbye.”
Black recently stopped by Day 19 Studios in Los Angeles to perform her song “Ides of March” on solo harp. Owned by photographers Aaron Farley and Jeremy and Claire Weiss, the space hosts local and touring musicians for a series of intimate video portraits. Black’s contribution marks her recent return to performing on the harp, her childhood instrument.
Often compared to Nico for her smoke-and-honey character voice and Joni Mitchell for her classic songwriting, Black maintains a cabaret-like propriety while drawing on the curious looseness of her former home, New Orleans. Her critically acclaimed debut, The Ditty Sessions, was recorded in the Big Easy in 2009 with an all-star backing band that included the late Big Star singer Alex Chilton and marked the rock legend’s final studio recordings. The album’s standout track “Drunk Rich People” was featured on NBC’s prime time hit Parenthood.
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PRAISE FOR CRISTINA BLACK:
Soft jams the likes of which we’re definitely not treated to everyday. Black is a talent in her own right. –The Fader
Black’s catchy songs and gorgeous voice are not overshadowed by her estimable backing band. –TwentyFourBit
Black has a knack for pretty, dark pop tunes. –Time Out New York
ABOUT THE DITTY SESSIONS
The gorgeous, dark-tinged tunes on Brooklyn singer-songwriter Cristina Black’s debut The Ditty Sessions are catching on with critics and fans for their clever lyrics and pretty arrangements. Recorded in fall of 2009, the album represents a magical collaboration between Black’s ukulele-driven confessional songwriting and an all-star backing band. Often compared to Nico and Joni Mitchell for her smoke-and-honey character voice, Black maintains a cabaret-like propriety while drawing on the curious looseness of her former home, New Orleans. Standout track “Purple Houses” describes the anxiety of watching Hurricane Katrina swirl towards the Gulf Coast. The set also addresses drug addiction on “These Days”, infidelity on “All I Want” and the plight of the wealthy on “Drunk Rich People,” which was featured on NBC’s prime time hit Parenthood. Black appeared at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2011.
A classically trained harpist and pianist, Black turned to pop songwriting more recently when she took up baritone ukulele. “I’m really only interested in magical instruments,” says Black. “But I wanted to play something small and simple for once.” Bruised from the events of Katrina and their collateral damage, she began to channel the experience of loss into her music. “The horror of that ordeal created a hole in my life so deep I had no choice but to sing my way out of it,” Black explains. She conceived her first song after falling in a puddle of mud on parade sidelines during Mardi Gras. “I remember thinking if I just had something to hold on to, a stick or something, maybe I could pull myself up out of that mess,” she recalls. That metaphor became the first line and theme for “All I Want,” its aching, minor-key melody pushing her through the emotional confusion of post-Katrina life.
A few years later, Black found herself back in New Orleans recording at Number C Studios, the home base of venerable funk band Galactic. With saxophonist-producer Ben Ellman at the console, the sessions were scheduled around the recording of the Grammy-nominated Trombone Shorty album Backatown. Black asked old friends Alex McMurray (guitar), Brian Coogan (piano, Wurlitzer, B3) and Alex Chilton (bass) to back her. “Chilton was the last piece to fall into place,” she recalls. “I needed a bass player in New Orleans who really knew pop music and he was the obvious choice.” Chilton passed away suddenly in early 2010. The Ditty Sessions were the rock legend’s final studio recordings.
Listen to songs by Cristina Black:
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