Ali McGuirk (USA)Thu 19th October 2023
Doors at 6.30pm, show at 7.30pm – all seated show
We’re incredibly excited to welcome Ali McGuirk to TLR. We first caught her at Folk Alliance when she was singing with Session Americana in a tiny, packed hotel room. We were absolutely blown away by her voice, husky, soulful, truly beautiful. We knew then that we had to bring her here someday and then we got the chance, so here she is. Don’t miss her!
Growing up just outside Boston, McGuirk doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t want to be a singer. By college, after a couple decades of absorbing ’90s r&b,’70s singer-songwriters and classic soul of every era, McGuirk found her own aesthetic: earthy, pure, propelled by a voice capable of whispering dark truths or belting out big hooks on her originals. Boston responded with a wave of love. The Boston Globe named her an ‘artist to hear.’ She racked up nominations and wins at both the Boston Music Awards and New England Music Awards. Her standing-room-only residency at Somerville’s Bull McCabe’s Pub delivered electric performances – her latest album, Til It’s Gone also features key contributions from McGuirk’s Boston bandmates such as guitar ace Jeffrey Lockhart.
The songs on Til It’s Gone are a culmination of McGuirk’s influences, experience and soul searching. Over jazz vamping and an in-the-pocket groove, ‘Evelyn’ speaks to “seven layers of generational trauma that the women in my family have survived.” Somewhere between folk ballad and quiet storm r&b cut, ‘The Work’ addresses how too many people refuse to have honest and earnest conversations about their prejudices – “If we can’t talk to each other and hold space for people when we can, nothing will progress,” she says. “Wealthy people, white people, cisgender people, straight people and anybody who holds institutional power need to first learn what institutional power is, then realize they, or we, have it, then do some work.”
McGuirk also spends time considering and reconsidering love gone wrong, or love gone sideways, or upside down. ‘Let It Be You’ sits happily in its classic blues pop vibe capturing a scorching vocal take that came at the end of an epic 10-hour day in the L.A. studio. ‘Leave Me’ winds through complex emotions – “If I’m gonna sing about the delusions of love, let my head be squarely on my shoulders while doing it,” she says – over an equally complex arrangement that starts with Joni Mitchell-reminiscent folk and rises to a jamming, Grateful Dead-esque climax. With the twang of an Emmylou Harris gem, ‘Empty Vase’ came out of wanting to write some “anti-torch songs.”
“I used to sing a lot of jazz and loved the ‘torch’ singers like Dinah Washington, Etta James, Sarah Vaughan, Abbey Lincoln, even though so many of the songs they sang felt anti-feminist to me,” McGuirk says. “Abbey Lincoln says a song is like a prayer, and you get what you put out and I found that to be true in my life. The idea that you can be a strong, independent feminist, and still suffer from the leftover feelings of a culture steeped in these historically unequal, gendered power dynamics is something that writing these songs has helped me process.”
2022’s 50 Best Albums of the Year— ‘Ms. Ali gets it. And she can play that damn guitar, too. There’s a history scattered through soul music, and blues, that speaks to this aesthetic. Boston and New England last saw this combination with a gal named Sue [Tedeschi] a couple of decades ago.’– Boston Globe
‘’All Back’ feels like it could exist somewhere outside of space and time– it could be on a record in the background of a party in a 1970s bungalow, or it could be on your Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify. Either way, it’s a great listen.’ – Consequence of Sound
‘The result on Til It’s Gone, her debut for Signature Sounds, provides a wealth of sonic enjoyment.’ – PopMatters
‘With all the hooks of LSD but more earthy tenderness and smart introspection, McGuirk will be the Bay State’s next big export.’ – Boston Herald
‘Throughout the album, it’s hard not to think about Susan Tedeschi when you hear McGuirk sing.’ – Glide Magazine
'Til It’s Gone’ is more than just a showcase of musicianship. McGuirk brings a songwriter’s sensibility, and a millennial’s perspective, to her lyrics… In just a few deft strokes, McGuirk paints a devastating and deeply human picture..' – WBUR