Vivian McConnell moves beyond her indie-rock roots with shimmering solo debut as V.V. Lightbody | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Vivian McConnell moves beyond her indie-rock roots with shimmering solo debut as V.V. Lightbody 

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click to enlarge V.V. Lightbody

V.V. Lightbody

Rachel Winslow

Vivian McConnell—a veteran of Chicago indie-rock bands including Santah and Grandkids—turns inward in her solo project V.V. Lightbody (named for her piano-playing grandmother) to create shimmering folk-pop that arrives like a cool breeze of introspection. She’s referred to her music as “nap-rock,” but that tag suggests something sleepy while the sounds she produces are effervescent and light. Much of the material on her forthcoming debut album, Bathing Peach (due June 15 from Midwest Action), conveys the elegant sense of propulsion associated with bossa nova, though only one song, “Fish in Fives,” embraces that genre’s sashaying rhythms. The consistently weightless music proves to be the perfect setting for McConnell’s gently sweet singing, even when a rippling tension arises, such as on “Dead Bee.” Many of the songs employ sea imagery: on opening track “Gaze” she uses fog as a metaphor for the narrator’s yearning vision as she spots the face of her lover on the shore from a ship in a clouded haze. On “Swollen,” romantic infatuation is described partly as the way flesh wrinkles and swells when submersed in the ocean or a stream for an extended period. Her voice is a captivating presence, tenderly cradled by patient, gossamer arrangements with overdubbed flute lines and harmony vocals that hark back to the prerock sound of the Andrews Sisters over lush sounds crafted by some of the city’s most skilled and tasteful jazz musicians, including drummer Matt Carroll, keyboardist Dan Pierson, and bassist Mike Harmon.   v

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