Katharine Whalen & Her Fascinators | Motorco Music Hall | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week
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Katharine Whalen & Her Fascinators

Photo by Carol Bales

Katharine Whalen & Her Fascinators

Katharine Whalen & Her Fascinators 

When: Fri., Aug. 26, 8 p.m. 2011

Katharine Whalen's voice is a warm winter hearth. It's comfy and inviting, with a smoky allure and flashes of fire that infuse her songs with her cool assurance and subtle bite. Most will remember her as one of the guiding forces behind the Squirrel Nut Zippers, alongside her ex-husband, Jimbo Mathus. Whalen has always had a penchant for the old-fashioned—she lives in an old farmhouse these days—and her passion for the past informed the Zippers' sound with a sepia-toned blend of swing, blues and gypsy jazz. When the band imploded in the late '90s, Whalen went solo, though she's only released an album every six years. Her first, with the Jazz Squad, echoed the Americana-swing sound of the Zippers; her second, 2005's Dirty Little Secret, explored a torch-tinged adult-contemporary pop sound. Both were serviceable attempts, but they lacked the spirited energy of the Zippers.

She seems to have solved that issue with her new combo, Katharine Whalen & Her Fascinators. Culled from her other recent band, Lucky, this is more of a rock act, with the standard guitar-bass-drums lineup. It's not only more financially feasible than the sprawling outfits of the past (fewer members = more affordable), but it returns to the crackle that characterized the Zippers. Neither indie rock nor Americana, it occupies the space between the two with bustle, bite, and without losing Whalen's sexy, come-hither coo. Their forthcoming debut, Madly Love, is highlighted by the raucously ramshackle title track and the thoroughly delightful "Mother's Day," which offers an irresistible melody while sketching the frazzled attitude of our modern age that drives us to distraction and isolation. "As a small child you were always bereft, and you chased them away until no one was left," Whalen intones. "If this is living, then you prefer death." Lucky for us, Whalen's around to enrich our stay. The show starts at 8 p.m.; visit motorcomusic.com for admission price. —Chris Parker

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