There’s a new eatery in The Factory at Franklin that’s offering what is, for Williamson County, a slightly exotic new pre-show dinner option. Funk Seoul Brother has a hip hop esthetic and a Korean/Japanese menu with poke (PO-kay), the rice bowl featuring raw fish. My tuna and seaweed this week was zesty and contrasty and a tiny offering to the gods of global cultural exchange. With the right taking illiberal positions against pluralism and the left taking illiberal positions against what it calls “cultural appropriation,” I’m up for anything that affirms the values of dialogue and, well, cultural appropriation, because without that, we’d not have the grand American music legacy. Melting pots make a lot of sound, and we aim to be there with microphones. Which brings me to 7 pm on Wednesday night.
The Harmaleighs were bright and alluring with Hayley Grant on guitar and Kaylee Jasperson on electric bass, plus Myles Baker on tasty electric guitar. They were soft and sweepy on “Julia” and moving in their title track of an imminent album called “Hiraeth.” It’s a Welsh word about longing for home, they said, something they know from many months living out of a van. “Ticking On” became a Spotify hit for the pair, and its brisk snap showed why.
Hayley Reardon showed what she picked up in her home area of Boston and her new home in Nashville – songs that had a modern folky purr as well as striking wordplay. “Everything Else” had a really cool, tripping-on-the-tongue verse and seductive minor chord progression. I got strong reminders of our heroine Susan Werner in Reardon’s wit and wisdom.
Everything is striking about Lowland Hum, their look and their sound. And there’s the fact too that Daniel and Lauren Goans stood together on a large wooden box with tambourine shakers that turned into a big stomp drum in opener “Folded Flowers.” That said, the groove was used sparingly in this pensive music. The forward foot was elegant close harmonies, which in places sounded like the Everly Brothers and elsewhere like something very new.
I’m not one of those music writers that’s heavy on associations and influences. I try to go to them when they really strike me hard and seem useful. But during Kingsley Flood’s power-packed set I wrote down on my little note card: Billy Bragg, Alejandro Escovedo, the Plimsouls, The Clash and The Replacements. All artists I love by the way. It was in the marriage of loose garage rock energy, catchy melodies and meaningful songwriting. Lead singer Naseem Khuri was both cutting and reassuring on the striding single “Try” and the band rocked hard on “Roll of the Dice.” The trumpet matching chorus vocals by the band was a bonus.