Music review: Alicia Witt & Paul Carella

You may know Alicia Witt from such TV shows as Twin Peaks, The Walking Dead and Nashville, but the latter gives a clue to her alternative profession as a singer/songwriter, while Twin Peaks allowed her to show off her classical piano training at the age of 14.

Alicia Witt, actress, is also a singer-songwriter
Alicia Witt, actress, is also a singer-songwriter

Stereo, Glasgow ***

Her first trip to Scotland came courtesy of her newly forged musical alliance with Glaswegian guitarist Paul Carella, which took the form of an informal to-and-fro between Witt’s piano pop compositions with occasional pre-recorded embellishments and Carella’s guitar-led acoustic blues and roots rock which often sounded more American than the American with whom he was sharing the stage, especially when she had an actorly stab at the local accent.

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There is a natural fluency to Witt’s singing, reminiscent of the light country pop touch of Gretchen Peters and Beth Nielsen Chapman and, on Still Sorry, of the classic aching balladry of Carole King. Her playing was deliberately quite strident at times, like she was bashing out a tune in a wild west saloon, but she showed off her jazzy flourishes accompanying Carella on his Red Sole Woman and providing unsettling discordant backing to her dark rendition of Paul Simon’s You Can Call Me Al. Of her own songs, the instant earworm of Younger was the one with most crossover potential.

Witt and Carella are not (yet) a slick partnership but the contrast in their styles and the off-the-cuff charm of their back-and-forth gave the two-hour show more dynamism than they could have hoped for across solo sets.