Angi West is a musician with such purity, both personally and professionally, that it is evident in her recordings and her live show, harnessed with the ease of sharing a glass of tea with a friend. She finds a rapport with her audiences where an infinite exchange is possible, feeds off her viewers as much as they do her, and it creates a delicate balance of deep appreciation.

Photo by Lydia See

During her recent Love is a Special Way of Feeling record-release at the Grey Eagle, West effortlessly segued from song to song, while sharing introspective and silly stories with the aura of a stand-up comedienne as her impeccably dressed 11 accompanists shuffled on and off stage in varying arrangements. Seth Kauffman, Ryan Cox, Jon Reid, Rebeccah Mark and Joti Marra provided vocal harmonies. Michael Libramento added guitar. Tim Shull rocked the electric and upright bass and Billy Goodrum manned the organ and bells. Evan Martin’s drumming was seamless. Simon Goldberg and Jon Reid (aka Jar-e) played trumpet. All were supported by opener Joshua Carpenter.

Wearing a black tunic, black leggings, and an amazing teased ponytail rivaling any runway show, West flitted around the stage talking about her songs, offering champagne to anyone who would take it (mostly just her mom), and commenting on her remarkable resemblance in some poses to George Washington. She has so much fun sharing her music that everything that pops out of her mouth amuses her, from referring to Tim on bass as “Teen Wolf” all night, to reiterating the lack of pants, permanently, from her life and her evening.

During the mostly seated show, the audience seemed rapt with quiet appreciation of West’s songs and her stage presence, both of the caliber of a musician who is wise beyond her years. She has progressed immensely since the release of Orange Thread in a Blue Sea (2007), her self-produced and self-released debut, and the new material she featured represented an artist who has learned from her previous experience and compounded the quality of her music. Even older songs, such as “Blackest Crow” and “Elijah” were dripping with a further understanding of her own cognition, while songs from Love such as “One Hand” and “Home in Heaven,” both personal favorites, demonstrated West’s unique and infectious musical intimacy and an intrinsic ability to capture a wide selection of fans.

The album as a whole is not only much more musically mature, but also exceptionally well-recorded. The subtleties of West’s voice and musical style were not fully captured on Orange and have been brought more to fruition on Love. Recorded at Collapseable Studio in West Asheville, West’s sophomore album was funded by the N.C. Services for the Blind, as she has Ocular Cutaneous Albinism and was born with many visual impairments. A source of inspiration, West’s Albinism is also something that she has not always been comfortable discussing because she wanted always to be accepted on the merits of her music alone.

West’s story is a rich one, and Love is a formidable next chapter.
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