Annie Fitgerald has a gorgeous voice, material to match, and winning presence. She lit the Ritz stage in Minneapolis on September 17th with a personable glow and fine music, capturing the crowd from the moment she stepped on right up until the show was over.
It was the Twin Cities release for the singer-songwriter’s excellent debut disc In Good Time. Produced by her writing partner Matt Patrick, the album’s 11 well-crafted songs are performed with solid professionalism. “Little Girl” and “Brother,” both on her set list at the Ritz, are tributes to Fitzgerald’s family. “Little Girl,” a pet name from her parents, is reflective, poignant, heartfelt—and sung with the kind of elegant simplicity memorable ballads are made of. “Brother,” dedicated to her brother, gets the same treatment, a haunting gem.
A hands-down standout on the album is “Watch the World Go By” has crossover hit written all over it, nailing a melodic groove reminiscent of Joni Mitchell circa Court and Spark. “Hero” opens In Good Time, compelling, anthemic, qualifying as a signature song. When she sings, “You’ll find my power in my love for you,” the listener truly feels it. At the Ritz, Fitzgerald acquitted herself as an archetypal country vocalist, leaning heavily on her almost uncanny gift for breaking her voice over a note. She fairly shimmers, threading a melody like she was born to it. The problem with the evening was that lead guitarist Tyler Burkum was too loud. Not overbearing. Just over-the-top enough to compete with and distract from Fitzgerald’s vocals. Still, the set, beyond question, was a success. Annie Fitzgerald has served notice: she is a country soul siren with whom one does well to reckon.
Supporting was singer-songwriter Vicky Emerson, a country stylist of amazing ability whose gigs I don’t never seem to be able to get to on time. Months back, I caught most of her set at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, missing the first few songs because I was at the lack of mercy of the bus company. This time around transportation did me worse, as I straggled in for her last three songs. I can, however, reliably report that Emerson was in fine voice. Also on the bill, the Brighton opened while I was figuring out how to get there.