It Ain’t No Disguise: Zoe Muth and The Lost High Rollers
I’ve had a few imaginary boyfriends in my life (some of the real ones turned out to be imaginary, too). The haircuts and eye color changed, but they always had one thing in common: they were just passing through.
Now, I know this is silly. Why would an imaginary boyfriend be hard to tie down? I think it’s because when you grow up listening to the lovelorn lyrics of Loretta, Lucinda, Emmylou, et al, sooner or later you start courting that heartache. Then, sure enough, there’s no shortage of partners who fit the bill.
Well, we’ve got to add Zoe Muth (above) to that list of singers who know how to call a spade a spade. She levels those troublemakers in a voice so sweet it’s like she’s patting them on the back and blessing their hearts at the same time: You’re a shadow of what that young boy was / but it ain’t what he done, it’s what he does / Am I wasting my time? / Am I wasting my time?
I saw Muth live at the Tractor last week and was further impressed by the professionalism and talent of the band. They played a polished, ten-song set and each Lost High Roller had a little time to shine, demonstrating their capability to move songs in different directions. Afterwards, I had a chance to talk with bass player, Miguel Salas, who says they put the band together through Craigslist a couple of years ago. That’s some find.
The last song in the set, “Starlight Hotel,” (a new one, I think) spoke to the self-fulfilling prophecy of how these rhymes start as stories or lies and somehow end up coming true. Muth’s stage demeanor is not trumped up, nor is it overly sincere — it’s strikingly calm and collected for someone who has been racking up accolades for her debut album, which was released last year.
I’ll admit I was skeptical when my sister told me one of her old daycare providers had put out a great record. She gave me the CD as a gift and it sat for a week on my kitchen table, but after the inaugural play, I was hooked. This Seattle-native is writing like a Nashville daughter and she’s got the fan base to prove it. The crowd at the Tractor pressed the stage and knew all the words. When we heard “Hey Little Darlin’” — If I’m here or if I’m there / I can tell that you don’t care / ‘cause you got a heart like a bucket full of ice — a couple of gals even broke out into the electric slide, which I didn’t think happened anymore.
Muth has definitely got her finger on the pulse of something. And as for all those old real and imagined heartbreakers still stuck in the belly of the whale, you ought to listen up — Zoe’s got something to say to you.
Originally written for City Arts Online in Seattle, Washington.