There’s the teenager from State College, cutting her teeth on folk and blues-inspired songwriting but discouraged by the dude-centricity of the local open mic scene. There’s the grad of Boston’s Berklee College of Music, studious and cerebral, with predilections for askew guitar licks and unconventional arrangements that draw unashamedly from the prog world (and the classical genres that inspired it). And then there’s the working Philadelphia musician who cuts loose with power trio fuzz and feminist punk rock.
With all these disparate elements in play, her band Ellen Siberian Tiger — possibly maybe a modified anagram of her name? For you to decide. — is a unique and wholly captivating listening experience. Joined in WXPN Studios by Collin Dennan on bass and Adam Shumski on drums, Shultz brought songs from 2015’s I Can’t Help It to life this week, along with a solitary performance of the moving title track to last year’s Red Blooded Woman — a return to her folk roots — and the premiere of a driving and expansive new song, “Cinderblock Cindy,” which you can watch the band perform live in the studio below.
The blend of music school complexity and basement show grit remind me of 90s faves Helium; the dramatic and sorta jazzy flair to Shultz’s vocal delivery has a Regina Spektor quality to it; and her vivid and poetic lyrical landscapes feel rooted in the work of Patti Smith, a stylistic influence (whether conscious or un-) on “Cinderblock Cindy.”
Hear it for yourself in Ellen Siberian Tiger’s Key Studio Session, which you can stream in full below. Or to experience it in person, mark your calendar for Saturday, August 19th, when the band plays The Barbary with RFA and more. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Ellen Siberian Tiger, The Key Studio Sessions