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Review: Pretty Broken Things @ Columbia City Theater

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Pretty Broken Things, All Photos by Amber Zbitnoff Photography

Last week I had the incredible opportunity to attend an intimate show at The Fremont Abbey featuring Damien Jurado, Jon from the Head and the Heart, and a new singer I wasn’t familiar with – Katie Costello from a local band called Pretty Broken Things. You can read my review here, but to sum it up, Ms. Costello blew everyone else on that stage away both lyrically and vocally. In fact, if Damien Jurado would have praised her anymore it’s quite possible her face would have glowed from a blush bright enough to light the room. Her voice, and a few of her band mates who joined her on stage during parts of her set, had me head over in heels in love with the sound they were producing, and I told myself that if I was this impressed with her in this setting, I’d surely be blown away by the entire ensemble playing together.

I didn’t have to wait long to test my theory. On Thursday, Pretty Broken Things played at Columbia City Theater, and you had better bet that I made sure to be there front and center to catch the band. Pretty Broken Things is a five piece ensemble with Costello on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Grace Yoo on violin, Ashlea Tegman harmonizing with Costello, Shay Carlucci lending other harmonies as well as on piano, and Jamison Dewlen on Dobro, Banjo, and electric. These five musicians seem to mesh very well together, and they aimed to make this a great experience for the audience outside of just their music – telling wonderfully bad jokes in between songs. But, clearly they were here to perform, and that they did in a big way.

While Costello’s hauntingly rich vocals are without a doubt at the forefront of this band, I was equally as impressed by Shay Carlucci’s harmonies. He accentuated Costello in a way that was almost too perfect – she really seems to have met her match with this pairing. Both have a real power to their voices, without ever overpowering the other, and his crooning gives even more depth to the songs. The low, whiskey drenched, sound he produces adds a sexy dynamic that wasn’t as fully present when Costello was on her own. Ashlea Tegman’s harmonies are also worth noting, without her high notes the songs wouldn’t have hit as hard, she adds a touch of sweetness to Costello’s sultry lounge singer sound.

While they don’t have a full EP available for download yet, I sincerely hope that that changes soon. The songs they perform are incredible, not only in terms of how they sound but also in their lyrical composition. When you listen to what Costello is belting in your direction, you’re at times caught off guard by the heartache, hope, and sense of longing that oozes from each line.

At this moment, Pretty Broken Things don’t have any shows lined up, but after how many great reviews they’ve been receiving as a result of last week’s performance at The Abbey, that is sure to change. Follow them on Facebook here for updates on where you can see them perform next, because trust me, you need to bear witness to this group for yourself. My words can’t do their music justice.