Lucy Rose @ Esplanade Recital Studio (7:30pm, 16.03.14)

“This is so surreal,” Lucy Rose Parton says, adjusting the guitar strap over her shoulder and shaking her head as if trying to wake from a dream. “How do you guys even know who I am?”

She’s addressing the hundred or so people before her, but especially the ten in the front row who have worn their Lucy Rose merchandise tees to the gig.

It seems almost an odd question to ask after such an intimate gig — as if one had played songs written in a diary on the guitar to a bunch of friends then asked them what the hell they were doing in her living room. Never mind that these were friends who were half in love with her and who could sing along to every one of her songs, and scream ‘AAAHHH’ right on cue after that line in the refrain of ‘Bikes’.

[youtube width=”457″ height=”343″]http://youtu.be/xym69qVmrec[/youtube][spacer height=”10px”]

At one point, Lucy (we’re on first-name terms now, right?) also shares that she’s written a new song titled ‘Nebraska’, inspired by a book she’s read by Willa Cather, and we all feel as though we should ask her if we could borrow it for the weekend — we’d return it to her the next time we hang out.

Honest, fragile and personal, it was a set that made us all voyeurs to her emotions and insecurities. But as flawless as the set was, and as flawless as Lucy Rose was, and as flawless as her vocals were, one couldn’t help but yearn for a tad more bite in the music.

As one critic put it more aptly, Like I Used To creates “a hazy sound that leaves you feeling as if you’ve bathed in lavender oil – lovely, but lacking the acerbic touch that would elevate her to a leading role.” Lucy’s talent is quite apparent, and her rising fame quite unsurprising despite her own bewilderment at it; but if she were to shed the comparisons to Laura Marling (not that that’s not a compliment by any measure) there will need to be more elements of surprise — like that amazing version of ‘Shiver’ she played on electric guitar instead of an acoustic (“We were flying, so I couldn’t pack too many guitars”) that added a dream-like patina to heartache.

Nevertheless, it was an unquestionably beautiful performance made literally up-close-and-personal when the audience swarmed the stage within centimetres of her, in response to her quite misinterpreted invitation to ‘stand and boogie’.

“This is insane. Who knew?” She mutters into the mic but not to the audience. “Who would have known that my best show would be in Singapore?”

By Zixin Lin