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White sounds a lot better than he feels

Largo at the Coronet, Los Angeles, October 16, 2018

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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John Paul White admitted to feeling a little uncomfortable with his current solo acoustic tour. However, with just two guitars and a microphone, White sounded a whole lot better than he likely felt.

Although White sang a few songs from his 2016 "Beulah" album, including "The Once and Future Queen" and "Hate the Way You Love Me," he mostly focused on new songs, which - he said -- may or may not appear on his next album. A few of these were written with A-list Nashville songwriters, including "I Want to Write You A Song," which was written with Whisperin' Bill Anderson. Another unnamed song was written with Bobby Braddock.

White opened with an unaccompanied version of "I Remember You," which found the wonderful vocalist vocalizing with an ever so slight yodel in his voice. Although White won awards Grammy Awards as one half of the duo Civil Wars, he proved this evening he doesn't need a partner to shine. He's a skilled guitarist that plays memorable licks during his accompaniments and has a beautiful singing voice that recalls the great Jeff Buckley.

White was preceded by a wonderful - and wonderful for entirely different reasons - set from Jonny Fritz. Whereas White sang about a bad grandfather and the health trials and tribulations of Glen Campbell, for instance, Fritz took a far lighter approach. One song delved into the shallow life of an Instagram poster, while his closing song overly dramatized forgetting to put the trash cans out in time for the trashman. Also, while only accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, Fritz had the audience laughing loudly often throughout his set. He mentioned how he'd recently earned his real estate license and was contemplating giving up touring. Let's hope he doesn't quit music, though, because he's just too good.

Both acts sounded great in the small Largo at the Coronet hall, where it felt more like an old-fashioned movie theater, not a generic music venue. Whether it was the beauty of White's songs or the silliness of Fritz's, this evening offered a welcome diversion from our crazy, modern world.