The death of a loved one and divorce always rank at or near the top of the greatest stressers someone can experience, and singer-songwriter Pegi Young had both on her plate as she stepped to the stage Friday to showcase songs from her new album, “Lonely in a Crowded Room.”
In addition to the recently announced split from Neil Young, her husband of 36 years, Pegi Young also had to contend with the death a day earlier of Rick Rosas, the bassist who has toured with Neil and with her in recent years as she has furthered her own career in music.
FOR THE RECORD
Nov. 10, 2:20 p.m.: An earlier version of this post misspelled the surname of Survivors’ lead guitarist Kelvin Holly as Holley.
Rosas had been scheduled to rejoin her band, the Survivors, at Friday’s gig following a recent absence during which Bonnie Raitt’s longtime bassist, Hutch Hutchinson, had filled in for him. Hutchinson resumed that role as Young and her band adopted “the show must go on” dictum.
Young projected a spirit of part fighter, part survivor in a set full of vibrant singing and stellar support from Hutchinson, lead guitarist Kelvin Holly, keyboardist-songwriter/singer Spooner Oldham and drummer Phil Jones.
Although several of the songs she has recorded for “Lonely in a Crowded Room” sound as though they could be responses to the breakup of her marriage, Young has said that her fourth solo album was finished before Neil filed for divorce earlier this year.
In any event, songs such as Oldham’s 1972 country hit for singer Bob Luman, “Lonely Women Make Good Lovers,” Allen Toussaint’s “Ruler of My Heart” and her own “Feel Just Like a Memory” resonated with the anguish of lost love.
At one point, Young spelled out her acceptance of the hand she’s been dealt, saying, “What do you do when you get dumped after 36 years? You just start over,” as she launched into “Starting Over” from her 2010 album, “Foul Deeds.”
Once a backup singer for her husband, Young has embarked on the uphill road to establishing a name for herself apart from the considerable shadow cast by her soon-to-be ex-husband. She’s using an appealing combination of gutsy vocals; a kinetic, prowling stage manner; songs that explore vulnerability and emotional resolve; and the support of eminently skilled collaborators.
In other words, all the tools a survivor might want.
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