With a voice as sweet as honey, Easy Tells started their set off on a Tuesday, night in a loungey Manhattan club like it was a Southern down-home bar. There is certainly something easy about this band, they’re easy to listen to, tap your feet to, they’re easy on the ears and easy on the eyes. The lead singer Matthew Crosby had a warm charm as he grinned through the first song with his honeyed vocals and Brooklyn moustache. Followed up with what may be the best song on their EP, ‘You can’t tell me’ the bassline and guitar work on this song particularly shone.
As far as venues go, Joe’s Pub leaves much to be desired, crowded, table seating and haughty waitresses walking by with trays full of overpriced beer is not my ideal show experience. Imagine it’s still the 1970s and you’ve got Joe’s pub, the stage background looked like steel grates or an egg carton cushion of grey and was bathed in red light through most of the set. Mirrors, pillars painted a shellacked black and a wooden inset wall with black and white blown up photos of previous musicians cemented the vibe as decidedly old Manhattan.
But Easy Tells are so all-encompassing I soon forgot my beef with the bitchy waitress and lost all sense of the venue outside of the musical presence. This guy is one of those singers who looks like he’s rediscovering the lyrics to the song with each word, like a speech he wrote just before, surprised he somehow remembers it. At a few different points, Crosby put down his guitar and switches to piano for the slower numbers like ‘It Wasn’t Always This Way’. This song had a bit of an attitude, I personally love it when songwriters turn their sorrows into an affair that throws dust in the face of their ex-love.
The guitar solos, which occurred on almost every song, were breath taking, almost astounding. It seemed there was nothing guitarist Ryan Mackstaller couldn’t do as he switched between several guitars, and even picked up his lap steel guitar for a few. For those of you who aren’t in the know, it is that stringed instrument that Mackstaller played with two picks, adding such a unique but somehow familiar sound to the tracks. Think Gavin Degraw meets country guitar licks – in a good way.
Easy Tells are at their best when their music has a little bit of a kick to it, like on ‘Got What You Paid For’, a song that fell smack dab in the middle of their set. Maybe it was the Magic Hat #9 (read: delicious beer) talking, but on this song I saw a glimpse of absolute brilliance in this band. Some of the slower piano numbers were a bit tiresome, but on rollicking tracks like this with plenty of bass, the entire band really shone. I will give Joe’s Pub this: they had a baby grand onstage that made even my inexperienced mouth drool, and Crosby played it with an ease and grace.
Towards the end of the night, Crosby played what he announced was a birthday song called ‘All The Best Returns’ before belting out ‘I know that better times are still ahead’, both celebrating the past but looking to the future, the kind of song that I’d want sang on my birthday. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, which was just enough rock, just enough pop and just enough country to create a mixture that will take them far.
Words: Caitlin White