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Emily Wells at Larimer Lounge show preview

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Emily Wells, Sunday, Jan. 21, 8 p.m., Denver, larimerlounge.com
  • Emily Wells, Sunday, Jan. 21, 8 p.m., Denver, larimerlounge.com
Live sampling and looping can all too often be an exercise in shallow self-indulgence, but not when Emily Wells’ avant-pop artistry is involved. The Amarillo-born preacher’s daughter is a kind of missing link between John Cage, Björk and the Wu-Tang Clan. After moving to New York City, she was mentored by Questlove, who has continued to include her in a number of high-profile concerts. Among them was a performance with The Roots at a 2013 benefit for Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Global Initiative — somehow she missed being dissed in any Trump tweets — and a subsequent Brooklyn Academy of Music concert that found QuestLove bringing out a hand-picked array of esoteric musicians to perform offbeat renditions of works by artists from Robert Moog to George Clinton. For her no-less-diverse solo shows, Wells serves as her own backing band by live-looping analog synths, guitars, real drums and complicated violin parts. The results are artsy but accessible, with her keening and somewhat oddly enunciated vocals bringing forth the melodic and emotional elements of her highly original songwriting. While the approach is hardly conventional, there are still enough soul, rock and pop inflections to keep shorter attention spans from wandering. Wells was recently commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra to write a new work called “This World is Too ____ For You.” While the orchestral rendition featured strings, horn and percussion, Wells could undoubtedly include it in a solo performance and make it work just fine.

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