ACL Review: Andra Day

R&B queen plies some San Diego goddam

Following in the steps of Alicia Keys’ self-love authenticity, Andra Day took off her makeup mid-set, before her deep, raspy timbre and cool, watercolor keys coalesced to give a jazz flare to Saturday ACL Fest headliner Kendrick Lamar’s “No Make-Up.”

Photo by Gary Miller

The San Diego songstress born Cassandra Batie recalled her earlier days of YouTube R&B covers by including soulful renditions of Queen’s “I Want It All” and more dispersed throughout her hourlong, mid-afternoon set at the Miller Lite stage. The most poignant tribute took on Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam,” the singer falling to her knees during a cacophonous middle section.

While the jaunty, tumbleweed flow of the original was cleaned up by Day’s accomplished backing band, reverb-cloaked guitar and ascending piano accentuated the singer’s spoken-word poetics on Ferguson as she snuck in Erykah Badu’s famous hook from “On & On” that encapsulated the mood perfectly: “On and on and on and on, my cipher keeps moving like a rollin’ stone.”

Day, 31, sang behind a vintage microphone that complemented her bouffant, large-hooped earrings, and ruby red lips. Her voice, alluring and brassy, ventured from earnest, lady-sing-the-blues in “Gin and Juice” and an Amy Winehouse rasp with a melodic pop twist on “Gold” to bedroom-eyed sass for the varnished “Forever Mine” and tomcat yowls during the retro polished “Honey or Fire.”

The most arresting part of her performance occurred during smooth ballad “Rise Up,” her soaring and halting croons met with a crowd of tears.

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Andra Day, ACL Fest 2016, Cassandra Batie, Nina Simone, Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu, Amy Winehouse, Kendrick Lamar, Queen

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