The Farmer’s Daughter, North Easton, MA
June 16, 2017
Tonight’s show was an album release party for Ibby’s new disc, Cross Your Heart. In the past several years, I’ve only been to one other hometown album release event at a venue filled with friends and family like this – TOS’ in Maynard last summer. Sure, I’ve been to album release concerts in the city, but this is a unique sort of event with its own energy, one where relatives, neighbors, coworkers past and present, and (especially for a recently-graduated 18-year-old like Ibby) school friends seem to comprise nearly the entire audience.
From the start, Ibby adorably, enthusiastically cheerful, fully enjoyed the spotlight and every moment – contagiously so, in fact; it’s clear this fearless singer-songwriter is completely at home performing.
Frequently, Ibby’s songs reminded me of other talented artists. Not in the entirety – which is to say, she has an original sound of her own – but elements of her songs recalled others for comparison. Unfortunately, I was rarely able to get beyond “what is the name of that song this reminds me of?” last night, so I’ll have to hope I can make more of those connections for you later this summer when I review the CD. Suffice it to say, Ibby’s songs will quickly feel familiar while remaining uniquely hers.
Ibby’s vocals are warm and rich with plenty of well-placed vocal cracks adding emotion and emphasis. Her strumming was steady and strong with varying patterns giving the songs unique textures. And, as I noted, her cheerful-yet-thoughtful, enthusiastic stage presence was cute and endearing. It’s a combination likely to win over any audience of music fans.
Ibby’s music is pop singer-songwriter fare, occasionally veering into folk-pop, sometimes sporting a hint of country, written about and inspired by events in her life. It’s a glimpse at the ups and downs of a teenager’s world, if that teenager is as introspective and self/world-aware as a good, young songwriter must be. Musically, I’d expect to hear her music in coffeehouses, nightclubs, and festivals (and on the radio). And, as with any song-driven music, it should transition well between acoustic and full-band performances, as opportunities arise, obviously sounding more folky when it’s just a girl with her acoustic guitar.
She kicked the evening off with “Breathin’,” a song driven by its strumming pattern and featuring an emotionally scratchy vocal. The next song, slightly folky pop-rocker “How Did I End Up Missing You,” coupled insistent vocals with forceful strumming, mixing a cracking voice with a combination of other tuneful vocal elements to create a memorable, distinctive-yet-familiar sound.
Other songs stood out during the evening, as well. “88 Keys” deployed a heavier strum, building and getting louder during the song. “Pier 17” was performed in a pop-folk style with the energy of a “travelling song,” its tempo causing it to always seem to be going somewhere. And “Lightning Don’t Strike Twice” was rather soaring and exceptionally engaging.
“My Dear” deploys a steady tempo with vocals rising and falling to pull the listener in, utilizing the insistent, emotional wail Ibby places so well (and not infrequently) in her songwriting.
During her second set, Ibby dipped into her “back catalog” a bit, with a bit more country in the sound of songs like “Dance,” which I believe she said she wrote in 8th grade, a song she performed with infectious cheerfulness, clearly having a grand time and exuding joy while singing it. She followed it with another “old favorite,” “Worst I Ever Had,” and both of these songs had this room full of her old friends singing along throughout. Like I said, hometown album release parties are a different species of animal.
Ibby also featured a couple new songs in the second set. One, whose title I didn’t catch, was a poignant song artistically using its words and sounds to paint a picture. The other, “Better Now,” sported an interesting rhythm and some ambitious vocal moves, including a little warble to draw attention to the bridge. This one, “Better Now,” may have legs for Ibby, as it’s catchy enough to become a singalong song by the end of the first listen.
Speaking of singalong, Ibby closed her second set with “Burnouts,” a fun “local favorite.” To that warble, Ibby adds a bit of a howl in this song, and on this particular night, with a venue singing along, she was completely emotionally and musically invested in this song; her energy only increased as the night wore on, buoyed by her own performance.
Ibby’s encore song, “Can’t Forget It,” was a sensitive, tender, touching, folky singer-songwriter piece. And then the evening ended, as the venue was closing, though the crowd would have stayed for another set.
It’s obvious Ibby isn’t a “developing talent.” She’s a developed talent whose future growth will be like that of any artist, as life events and continued maturity will provide different life experiences to write about and connected with, different viewpoints and thoughts to share. But she’s clearly “ready” now, creating engaging, emotional songs as a songwriter and performing them with infectious enthusiasm and skill.
Ibby performs again this afternoon at the Beverly Arts Festival – or she probably already has performed by now, as the All You Got Tour performers’ time slot was listed on this notice as 10:30-3:30. Follow Ibby’s Facebook page to see when and where she’ll perform next.