[live review] William Fitzsimmons @ Royale

Those in the market for an even crunchier version of Iron & Wine have found it in WILLIAM FITZSIMMONS, whose voice sounds like dripping water put to music. The assembled crowd at Royale last Friday evening was likely no greater in number than 100 and fit comfortably on the platform abutting the stage, with several folks sipping beers at their own tables. But Royale may have never experienced something this close to an entirely silent congregation, let alone concert attendants whispering their drink orders to the bartenders, and the club’s dance music that would fill the room a few hours later, to an entirely different crowd, seemed a lifetime away.

Fitzsimmons’ delicate folk has a rainy day sort of vibe to it – the kind of music you might play if you’re trying to get in a nap. With a style to match his acoustic sound, the singer/songwriter’s ZZ Top beard and circular glasses suggest he may have just jumped out of the back of a pickup truck on which he rode into town from Western Pennsylvania.

Before singing “Ever Could,” he explained that the 2011 track was to be a “happy song.” Apparently “happy” is used loosely in terms of his music as a whole; while it’s authentic (we didn’t notice any psychedelic instrumentations heard from the likes of Bon Iver) it does get a bit monotonous. But hey, how much sound variety can you get with a bassist, guitarist and keyboard? Not much, apparently. “We’re gonna do kind of a mixed bag tonight,” he said at one point. “Nah, it’s all the same isn’t it?”

Fitzsimmons continued his rapport with his adoring female fans with a fair share of stage banter. “If you’re wondering why I sing like a six-year-old girl, it’s because I’m singing for my mother,” he told the crowd. His candidness makes us forgive him for his somewhat generic sound, which is more than comparable to his contemporary male “folky” singer/songwriters and the usual artists that end up sound tracking a tear jerking scene in Grey’s Anatomy. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s definitely... nice.

Mike Barry is an intern at the Boston Phoenix.

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