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Erika Wennerstrom | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Each of Erika Wennerstrom‘s long and winding songs has a story behind it, and at today’s Free at Noon performance the musician seemed eager to share them all. Though she may be best known as the frontwoman of Heartless Bastards, Wennerstrom is currently on tour supporting her recently-released first solo album Sweet Unknown, and stopped by World Cafe Live this afternoon to showcase the new tunes.

Wennerstrom’s solo sound is a definite departure from the garage rock of Heartless Bastards, but remains just as dynamic as the songwriter’s familiar vocals and skillful guitar playing retain their rock star quality while taking on a bit of a folk edge. “I love some World Cafe,” Wennerstrom greeted the audience. (Last time she was in town, she appeared on World Cafe, the show.) Met with enthusiasm from the sizable crowd, Wennerstrom and her band powered through an eight-song set that lasted the entire 12 o’clock hour.

Wennerstrom turned introspective for many of the songs on Sweet Unknown, and introduced many of them today with a brief note on where her inspiration came from — ranging from forgiving herself for negative energy to “I wrote this song while on the way to do psychedelics in the Amazon jungle.” Mid-set, Wennerstrom toned down the fiery energy of her faster-paced songs for a back-to-back performance of “Be Good To Yourself” and “Staring Out The Window,” two of the slow-burners on the new record.

Of “Good To Be Alone,” Wennerstrom noted the irony of the message behind the song, to not depend on anyone else for happiness, with the fact that she couldn’t do this alone, introducing her backing band. She closed with album single “Extraordinary Love,” explaining that the whole world could use more self love. “And it starts with me,” Wennerstrom said, before correcting herself: “Or, ourselves.”

Erika Wennerstrom plays Boot & Saddle this Saturday night with The Family Crest; find tickets and more information on the XPN Concert Calendar and see photos from today’s set below.

Erika Wennerstrom 8.3.18

Setlist:
Twisted Highway
Letting Go
Like A Bird
Be Good To Yourself
Staring Out The Window
Time
Good To Be Alone
Extraordinary Love

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