A Thursday night at the Soho House might be the worst place to preview a new album. Especially one like Brooklyn singer Sydney Wayser’s ,with its layers of guitar, percussion and vocals, all of which you actually want to hear. At the Soho House, people would rather booze it up and listen to Rihanna; a chanteuse could get swallowed alive. Luckily Wayser is more than a pretty voice: she’s a performer who had no problem fighting back against the revelers and constant speaker feedback.
With her milkmaid braids atop her head and her chic gray gown, Wayser fit in perfectly with the modern black décor. Placed in the tiniest spot near the front of the room, Wayser and her 4-piece band of brothers huddled together as the crowd formed a protective barrier around them. Sitting behind a shiny baby grand covered in Christmas lights, Wayser started the show with “Wolf Eyes” the first single off of her upcoming third album Bell Choir Coast, due out March 27. With oohs that sounded almost like wolf howls and a heavy beat driven by the banging of pots and pans, she had the support of the crowd.
Though Wayser’s not a household name yet, there’s a sense that she’s right on the brink. She’s often compared to piano women like Regina Spektor and everyone’s favorite New Girl, Zooey Deschanel and yeah, there’s a jazzy twinge to her delivery. But if you really give her a listen, she’s much different than those two.
With her first two albums, 2007’s Silent Parade and The Colorful from 2009, she used children’s toy instruments to get her point across. But at 25 years old she moves away from whimsy and has become more confident in herself, carving out her own little indie pop niche that sounds like the French singers she grew up admiring. Even her voice sounds more convincing when she coos, “Wait a minute/ I’ll come back for you” on “Dirty Work,” a song about being an undercover spy.
The night was filled with little mishaps, like when there was so much buzzing from Wayser’s piano mic that she threw her hands up, tambourine in hand, and made her way to the front of the stage to belt out the guitar heavy “Atlas.” Though it was hard to get the full effect of quieter numbers like “Call Me Up,” it never took away from how good Wayser's voice sounded. With the hook-filled “Build It Up” she got the crowd clapping and shouting along and her last song, “Time Frame” was a bittersweet lullaby. At one point she sang sadly “I need you more than you need me,” as her ghostly choir of boys sang along. This finally got the room to quiet down, which was pretty impressive for a busy Thursday night.
Wayser’s new album, Bell Choir Coast comes out March 27th on Silent Parade Records.
Check out a video of Wayser doing “Dream It Up” out in the woods from the very cool New York music blog Wild Honey Pie below.
Photo by Shervin Lainez