by MIKE CHAIKEN
Tegan Marie has an impressive set of pipes.
At her Sept. 30 show at the Infinity Hall in Hartford, the young country star proved that she can belt out a song with the best of them. The 14-year-old’s chosen genre is country but she approaches the songs in a way more befitting for the artists from her home state of Michigan. Unlike the more controlled, breathy sounds of a Taylor Swift or some of the other pop country females today, Tegan attacks the genre of country as if she is an old-style R&B belter from Detroit.
Live, with an actual band, Tegan’s sound has more kick than it does on her social media posts or the videos of her first two singles, “Keep It Lit” and “I Know How to Make a Boy Cry.” On stage with a full band, Tegan (who is the youngest country artist in years to be signed to a major label) amped up the energy considerably on her first two singles– which already were packed with a good deal of zip.
Tegan also put her considerable vocal chops to work on a new song, “Sylvia” and a couple of covers: Florida-Georgia Lines’s “H.O.L.Y.” (which earned her millions of hits on social media) and John Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses.” Mellencamp is a particularly difficult artist to cover so it was a bold choice for a young singer. But Tegan was able to give her own spin to the song.
At times in her headlining gig, Tegan’s voice got the better of her as she strayed occasionally off key. But, and we’ll get technical for a moment, a voice with her kind of power needs a lot of breath behind it. However, to maintain that kind of breath, a singer often needs to focus on standing in one place, not wasting any oxygen to any extraneous movement. (I kind of liken it to a rookie fastball pitcher in his first major league game, so pumped with adrenaline he sometimes misses the strike zone and sometimes the catcher as well.)
But, Tegan clearly was not content to stand in one place even if it gave her time to better control her vocals. She energetically worked the stage, intent on connecting to and engaging her audience. Also, which is not surprising for a young, new artist, Tegan clearly was excited to be in a new state, performing before new fans, and building her audience—so a few bum notes are excusable.
Overall, Tegan’s 60 minute or so set clearly indicated she is not taking for granted her good fortune.
And the audience filled with Girl Scouts, dance students, and young girls of all persuasions were audibly and visually won over by the teen star who stood before them. They sang and danced as Tegan tossed back her hair, laughed, and belted out yet another powerful tune.
I give Tegan Marie at Infinity Hall in Hartford on Sept. 30 three out of four stars.
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.com