Last Friday night, Seth Glier returned to the Ark for what was a significant night for the 24-year-old songwriter. Not only was it a kickoff to his nationwide tour, but a cd release party for his follow-up to 2011’s “The Next Right Thing.” It’s called “Things I Should Let You Know,” and it represents a transformation from a young, hustling musician to a mature, introspective man finding the importance in individual moments and careful pacing. He’s clearly been through a lot since we last spoke with him, which was shortly after himself and collaborator Ryan Hommel (now pursuing solo endeavors) performed in our studio last spring.
Plymouth native Kylie Phillips opened for Glier in what was her first appearance at the Ark. She explained how she grew up attending shows at the historic venue with her dad (also a musician), and it was here that she decided she wanted to make music for a living. She made the right choice – she’s a natural songwriter and performer. Her songs effortlessly push deep feelings to the surface, and come off as timid confessions evolving into unafraid expressions often grounded in the detail of physical setting.
As excited as everyone was for Glier’s set, I’m pretty sure Phillips made everyone forget for at least a moment. I found myself surrounded by adults crying and laughing in equal measure throughout her entire performance, which was five songs, give or take. Her talent was instantly obvious, but it was her ability to move an audience that made me sure I’ll be seeing a lot more of her in the future.
The most tears, however, came from her parents, who were sitting two rows in front of me, occasionally embracing in an overwhelmed-with-pride headlock.
After an enormous round of applause for the young singer, Seth Glier took the stage. Last time we saw him at the Ark he was accompanied by Ryan Hommel, who complimented Glier’s sensitive piano ballads perfectly with his quiet tenor and dexterous acoustic strumming. But tonight he was joined by a brilliant saxophonist with a beautiful voice – Hommel was still dearly missed, but Glier chose a fantastic replacement.
Even from the beginning his excitement was obvious, though he didn’t speak much until after he played a couple songs. He opened with the title track from his new album, which required some creative use of looping pedals where he layered his own vocals several times over, and even – for the first time that I’ve seen – exercised his skills on bass.
There’s a strong personal factor to a Seth Glier show. Most songs are preceded by a story about the experiences that birthed them or the way in which they were written. We heard about ex-girlfriends, family, notable collaborators, and most interestingly, Glier’s focused perspective about life that reflects a sightline way beyond his years.
His set went a little over an hour before spilling into an encore, which he ended with an Irish toast that is traditionally spoken at funerals, but carried a sentimental and celebratory weight that acted as an appropriate conclusion to this type of show.
If you’re unfamiliar with Glier’s music, I highly recommend checking out either of his two recent releases – they’re full of the highest quality songwriting I’ve heard from an artist so young, or from most current singer-songwriters for that matter. No filler. No senseless radio pop. No trendy indie mimicking.
For starters, here’s a video from when Glier and Hommel stopped in our studio last spring: