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In concert: Pree

PreePree's May Tabol sang about ghosts, houses and snow in an unconventional soprano Wednesday at Millennium Stage. (All photos by Brandon Wu/FTWP)

By Mark Jenkins

The marble-clad Kennedy Center stood in for a back porch Wednesday night, when Pree played a 45-minute set of psychedelic Americana on the Millennium Stage. The D.C. quartet’s loose yet ambitious music was engaging, if perhaps a bit more rickety than intended.

(Blending the downhome and the cosmic, plus more pictures after the jump.)

Pree

The group was founded in 2008 by singer-songwriter May Tabol, who had previously performed with Le Loup, another local outfit that blends the downhome and the cosmic. Switching among piano and electric and acoustic guitars, Tabol sang about ghosts, houses and snow, among other things, in an unconventional soprano that recalled Victoria Williams. Such songs as “Light Fails” had a sea-shanty air that evoked the Decemberists, while the eclectic arrangements smacked of Neutral Milk Hotel (a band whose repertoire just happens to include a song titled “A Baby for Pree’’).

While David Barker stuck to lead guitar, the other three musicians shuffled instruments regularly. The most versatile was Vanessa Degrassi, who alternated on flute, melodica, guitar, bass and various percussion instruments, and sometimes had to hunch over to sing into the microphone as she struck one or more chiming or clanging devices. The effort to get every thump and trill in its proper place was occasionally distracting, and suggested that the band would be wise to save its fussier touches for the recording studio. But when the focus was on Tabol’s melodies, especially as boosted by Degrassi and drummer Chris Dewitt’s vocal harmonies, Pree’s rustic acid-rock sounded altogether urbane.

Pree

Pree

By David Malitz  |  January 21, 2010; 12:34 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags: Pree  
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