With the pipes of a seasoned R&B singer and boy-next-door charm, Travis Garland has it all. But last night at World Cafe Live, he still managed to break the rules. He emerged from backstage at the sound of the small, but dedicated crowd chanting his name and off we went into the Travis-sphere.
He began with two atmospheric standout tracks (“Where to Land” and “Blue Electric Roses”) from his recently released self-titled debut album that showcased his smooth falsetto before launching into the uptempo “That Girl” by NLT (the boy band he fronted up until four years ago). Through the rest of the night we see Travis channel a variety of his influences both old (via a brief ode to Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop til You Get Enough” during “Easy”) and new as he spiced up his laid-back track “All She Wanna Do” with the unforgettable White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” bass line.
But don’t let the rock n’ roll fool you. Garland was clearly on a mission to seduce as he bathed the crowd in sensual melismas in true R&B fashion whilst performing “Neighbor” which highlights his rendezvous with the lonely wife-next-door followed by a cover of Ciara’s hit single “Body Party”. He didn’t stop there. He teased the crowd with a bit of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” before delivering a reggae rendition of Miguel’s “Adorn”.
The Texas native took us to church on the achingly soulful “Abby Lee”, a stellar example of what live singing should sound like. He then discussed the roots of the rock influence that’s interspersed through his debut. His fascination with Lenny Kravitz led to the creation of “Clouds” and “Modern Life” which his band then rocked through with no restraint. Garland ended his set with the elusive, metaphor-filled “Homewrecker”.
For his encore, Garland took to an R&B classic, D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel?)”, backed by a single guitar and the echo of his own soaring vocals before the onslaught of applause affirmed his electric star quality.