The Melody Inn hosted another full bill Sunday night, including two Nashville acts and two local stalwarts. A four-band agenda has been known to stretch deep into the morning at the Mel, so it was refreshing that each set lasted a brisk six songs. For a Sunday night, it was the perfect pace.
First up was Nashville power-popper Nick Flora. Performing alone with just a guitar, Flora delivered a gregarious and entertaining set that pulled mostly from newest album Hello Stranger. Presence of Greatness, Temp Job, Invasion!, and Guilty as Charged were wonderfully hooky capsules of indie pop reminiscent of Mike Viola and Jim Boggia. The most striking number, however, was a stripped down cover of Pete Townsend’s Let My Love Open the Door that revealed what an earnest and moving song it is at heart. Flora was terrific.
Indy artist Mark Alexander, also acoustic, was next. His set, including songs like Closer, had more of a classic rock and blues influence. Alexander’s music would be a good pairing with local rockers Hero Jr.
Local favorites The Bonesetters were next, and they just keep getting better. One of these days I’m going to write up their magnificent debut album, Savages. Until then, make it a point to go see them live. Standards like the title track and You Are Shaun Gannon are still as fiery as ever, and new songs indicate the band is expanding their sound. Sundowners, in particular, was stunning. The song has a steady build that explodes at the end — I can easily see it being the band’s patented set closer for the rest of their existence. Incredible song and fantastic band.
Nashville trio Paper Lantern closed out the night with a sparkling set of sunny neo-folk. The two women/one man band boast strong harmonies, organic instruments like upright bass and banjo, and a knack for catchy hooks — think 50s and 60s throwback pop, Mountain Man, and a touch of Belle and Sebastian. Tracks like Colley Ave, Secrets, and Redlight Lover from newest album Fool’s Gold were all delightful bursts of melody. Paper Lantern has the credentials for some serious NPR love.
Another great night at the Mel.