Ebony Lamb + Jess Cornelius – Wine Cellar, November 9, 2022

Ebony Lamb and Jess Cornelius. A true double-bill of highly regarded cult fave artists launch their short New Zealand tour to an appreciative and attentive audience, mid-week at Auckland’s equivalent of the legendary Cavern Club.  

 Jess Cornelius

By rights, Jessica Cornelius should be widely known in this country. She was born and raised in Ngaruawahia, and then to Wellington as a teen.


Moved to Melbourne, which is the most fertile city in Australia for great musicians and established her artistic credentials with Teeth and Tongue. It was her vehicle really, being the writer and a multi-instrumentalist. Moved to Los Angeles around 2016 and furthered her rising trajectory as a solo artist.

Has supported tours by Paul Kelly, Ty Segall and most recently King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.

Her debut solo album Distance from 2020 received special mention and praise from the music press. It is featured tonight.

She is playing on this tour with Michael Mikal Cronin. Also, a well-seasoned indie musician from Laguna Beach, California. A solo artist with several albums, and a revolving member of the Ty Segall Freedom Band. Mikal plays bass; Jess is on guitar.

Kitchen Floor starts her set, with a louche and languid rhythm suggesting country Americana. A lower-register folkie voice.

Palm Trees has a similar ambience, but she can climb smoothly into the high tone girl-group vocals. Has the atmosphere of the Cowboy Junkies in their down-tuned moments.

This is for You showcases a brand-new song. A slower tempo and quite folky. But it builds slowly and what catches the attention is her guitar sound suggesting Tom Verlaine. Solo and with Television.

The same on Body Memory. A rhythm machine is used. Indie pop with a punk-funk bass lead. A little New York Verlaine jangle guitar also helps make it stand out.

Love and Low Self-Esteem. Folk pop with some jazz accents. You and I don’t talk/ I’ve made different friends. A showcase for her vocal fluidity where she can sound tender whilst delivering scathing burns. The spirit of Joni Mitchell arises. Of course, Los Angeles and Laurel Canyon.

No Difference. Some of the Smith’s ambience creeps in, especially with her vocal phrasing. Along with the inventive bass lines which bend the song into indie pop.

Have a listen to her version of There is a Light That Never Goes Out, for a treat. It’s on Spotify.

The pair have a new duo project called Cronelius, two songs from which they give us a preview. They switch guitar and bass roles.

There is Mister Wu, Cronin on lead vocals and sounding like a marriage of americana and pop.

No Place has Eastern drone elements and a nod to Lou Reed. Just tell me what you are doing/ Be a man.

Both these artists have impressive credentials, and they should get wider attention here if there is any justice.

Ebony Lamb

Ebony we all know from Eb & Sparrow. Three very good albums, and a band which received a lot of attention as they toured up and down the country. I only caught them twice. They had a distinctive take on folk, country and pop. Ebony’s voice was immediately arresting and quite special.

This tour is to present her new album Successful Feelings, due to be released…Soon?

Take My Hands at Night. The recently released first single. There have been various descriptions of her voice. What is captivating tonight is how her high tones are reminiscent of Kate Bush. I say this as a guidepost only, as it sounds distinctively her own. The rhythm section drives this one superbly.

Hikurangi Schaverian-Kaa (French for Rabbits) on drums, and Phoebe Johnson (Revulva) on bass. Ebony is playing electric guitar.

Midnight is inspired by her father and explains the origin of her name. Plaintive ambient folk which swings nicely with a rockabilly rhythm.

The title song Successful Feelings is slower and downbeat. Showcases how pure and sharp her high voice is.

Come Put a Record On. Some twanging country and western guitar colour. Sounds a little like Reb Fountain here.

Brother and Drive. They both begin with folk americana. Then she puts in some jazz and blues phrasing, and both songs take off into interesting areas.

The material was worked through over the last few years of panic, pandemic and Prison Island. The result is a benediction rather than a cathartic outpouring. The producers, Bic Runga and Kody Nielson were key to this, and Ebony pays them tribute.

Ebony Lamb and Jess Cornelius. They deliver a compelling show of contemporary pop with a diversity of different elements. Both with distinctive voices. Catch them if you can on this tour.

Rev Orange Peel

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Ebony Lamb:

Jess Cornelius: