Grace Woodroofe: Eerie Calm Amid The Chaos

May 1, 2012

Grace Woodroofe's "Transformer" kicks in with a guttural lurch, the groan of the guitars and the clatter of the drums bulldozing everything in their path before the singer's rippling alto steps into the rubble. The effect is akin to Fiona Apple fronting The Stooges, so it seems inevitable that she'll eventually match the tenor of her band and start howling.

Only she never does. Instead, she maintains her jazzy, unwavering delivery throughout "Transformer" even when the music reverts to the rudely primal grunting with which it began. The words proclaim that Woodroofe is "a full-time be-whoever," shifting with the whims of her lover, but her vocal tells a different story, staying on such an even keel that when she hits the title word just before the instrumental section — what the guitar does next is so aggressively entropic that it hardly qualifies as a "solo" — her voice catches on the second letter. It's as if she can barely muster the strength to push through one more word.

It makes sense that Woodroofe never raises her volume or unleashes her aggression, since it's not so much changeability that she's offering as it is self-abasement. While her band dispenses chaos, Woodroofe stares down the object of her devotion without blinking. That's far more unnerving than hearing her let loose.

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