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Sexy Times with Hannah von der Hoff

12 May

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“For any newcomers, I’m Hannah von der Hoff and this is what I do.” The woman who has made a local name for herself as a model and part of the frontwoman team for the now-defunct SEXCAT took the stage at the Dakota Jazz Club to do what she is doing now – turning her preternaturally talented singing into her own voice.

For the second of her Late Night Dakota shows, von der Hoff was outfitted in an aquamarine Kjurek dress (available to purchase, she noted, at the new Showroom boutique in Uptown) and accompanied in an unfussy manner by a hollow-bodied white Gretsch. The Gretsch was new, purchased after her old Fender suffered an accident that saw it lose its headstock. That led to tuning and chatter about the 24-hour trial period, but the hollow body had the same quality as von der Hoff’s own voice – full, with a deep richness and the ability to hit just the right piercing note at the height of a run and cut deep to the soul.

Von der Hoff ran through two sets of her own material, peppered with some choice covers that highlighted how her voice can transform songs that already have indelible renditions. She took on the vulnerability of Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars” and gave it a confident defiance at the end, imbued Feist’s quavering but poppy “The Limit To Your Love” with a more earthy directness than James Blake’s stripped down version, and ended her night with “Came A Long Way” from Heartless Bastards, her favorite band. You can hear the Heartless Bastards influence in von der Hoff’s own songs; as if Erika Wennerstrom’s vocals had a smoother, jazzier bent to them, held up by the simple guitar lines. With Garrett Neal from USONIA guesting on keyboards on the second set, the atmosphere of encompassing, nostalgic intimacy of the late night jazz club was perfectly captured in the candlelight flicker of the Dakota.

Von der Hoff has said that she “doesn’t have a Plan B,” and songs like “Sunday Afternoon” and “Marcela” (performed with the namesake seated in the front row) carry an exciting promise of the seductive honesty that’s to come. In that spirit, Von der Hoff announced that she will be releasing a live EP next week and is working on a full record, as well as future show dates. She also ended the night with a plea to tip the servers well, because she herself was working a double tomorrow. It’s the work that artists do to get by as they work to get their voices and talents to lift themselves up as much as they do us in the audience.

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