Even though we've never met, my relationship with Blair dates back to around 2002, when she caught my attention at an open mic night in New Orleans – where we are both from. (As coincidence would have it, Blair and I both live in Brooklyn now.)
Through the years, I've kept tabs on her career via the Internet. Her first full-length CD, “Die Young,” released in January, exceeded my expectations. But strangely enough, I had never seen her perform a full set live.
Until Friday night's CMJ showcase at The Mercury Lounge.
Playing with a four-piece band, Blair filled a 38-minute set exclusively with songs from “Die Young,” a collection of mostly mellow, indie-pop anthems. There are two characteristics that set Blair's music apart from the fray. First, her songwriting is intricate and never monotonous. Don't expect many verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus songs from her. Every one of Blair's tunes is a journey in which you're never quite sure where she will lead you next.
Secondly, she has a soft, tender voice. You get the feeling that she can rehearse in her apartment at 3 a.m. and not tick off her neighbors.
Standing out among the songs in Blair's set was “Candy in the Kitchen” which deviates from her usual sound in that it is an insanely catchy, electronic dance track. And one of her strongest songs live came when Blair traded her electric guitar for an acoustic and played the folky “Wake Up Shake Up.”
Blair doesn't say much between songs. I believe her only words – aside from lyrics, obviously – the entire night was, “I'm Blair,” “This is called 'Kamizake,” and “Thanks for listening.”
She instead let's her music speak for itself. And what her music said to me personally was: It never should have taken you eight years to check out this promising singer-songwriter.