Geneseo Late Knight and Activities Commission hosted a night of music in the Kinetic Gallery on March 6 as part of their collaborative coffeehouse series. Sophomore Ella Mosco of slackjaw opened for MaryLeigh Roohan, a singer-songwriter from the Albany area.
Mosco warmed up the audience with a repertoire of ukulele tunes. The set included a mixture of slow, heartfelt songs as well as some catchier, upbeat tunes.
Mosco played several covers, like Bright Eyes’ “Lua” and Radiator Hospital’s “Cut Your Bangs,” but also introduced emotional original songs that touched on personal experiences; taking listeners on an introspective, yet enjoyable journey. Many of the audience members sang along to her take on the Destiny’s Child hit “Say My Name” at the end of her set.
Roohan then stepped into the spotlight to fill the Kinetic Gallery with her assortment of slow jams. Armed with just a microphone and an electric guitar, the solo artist pulled off a surprisingly dynamic performance.
Roohan offered a musical experience that seamlessly blended indie pop, Americana and soul. Her style is one that would fit in just as well at a summer music festival as it would at a roadside bar in the South. Between her hypnotizing guitar riffs and her calming vocals, her songs were mesmerizing—and sometimes nearly trance-inducing.
Roohan delivered sad songs with a soothing finesse, proving that she can make melancholy themes into widely accessible tracks like her pacifying 2014 single “Oh, Brother.” She also proved to be adept at crafting lighthearted and memorable ballads like “Candy Man.”
Roohan explained that when she was a freshman in high school, she had an unexpected entry into playing guitar. During a dreary winter break, all her friends went away on vacation and Roohan was left alone at her house, stricken with boredom. Her mother had a bunch of classical guitars sitting around, so Roohan picked one up and started teaching herself the craft.
Beginning with Weezer covers, she eventually transitioned into writing her own songs. “I feel like a lot of the time I’m just kind of putting myself in a zone, like a stream of consciousness in a way, where I’m just singing words and sometimes they make sense and sometimes they suck,” Roohan said. “I keep the ones that make sense.”
The artist will be recording a live EP this March and plans to release it this summer. She also has a busy tour schedule of shows at various colleges and venues and will be all over the Northeast and Midwest this spring.