Sasami Ashworth has been making music and contributing to musical
projects for years. Since graduating
from the Eastman School of Music in 2012, Ashworth has built an impressive
resume working as a music teacher, scoring and creating musical arrangements, producing
tracks, and playing keys, bass, and guitar with several bands. Most recently, she has been touring and
playing keys with indie powerhouse Cherry Glazerr. After years of contributing from the shadows,
Sasami Ashworth has decided to focus on her own music, and step into the spotlight
performing under the mononym SASAMI. Following
the release of her acclaimed first single “Callous” last year, she returned
this year with her brilliant self-titled debut album, SASAMI. Having already shared bills with heavyweight
acts such as The Breeders, and Blondie, SASAMI embarked on a North American
tour. We caught a recent Saturday night stop
at Kings in Raleigh NC.
The room was packed with a solid crowd as SASAMI took the
stage, her singing and guitar playing backed by a bass player and drummer who
provided a solid rhythm section. From
the outset, there was an immediacy to her songs that was not as apparent on the
studio versions. Some of the
instrumental layering and atmospheric brooding from the album was lost behind
the noisy fuzz-laden guitar, throbbing bass, and cracking snare-driven drum
beats that underpinned her confessional lyrics.
The more forceful live interpretation still managed to capture the warmth
and pacing of her album with a surprisingly full sound. The set, consisting of songs centered around personal
struggles and relationships, provided a satisfying musical and emotional
texture as it mixed upbeat and punchier unconventional indie-pop with slower
hazy shoegaze. Throughout the all too
short journey, the weekend crowd stayed respectful and appreciative. The admiration was mutual, with Sasami taking
time between songs to chat with the crowd, mentioning her surprise and pleasure
at how many people turned out for the show.
SASAMI, both the artist and album, highlights the talents of
a solid all-around songwriter coming into her own. If the Saturday night crowd in Raleigh was
any indication, the spotlight suits her and she has a very bright future.
Opening the show at Kings fell to local folk-punk outfit Loamlands. Founded and fronted by Kym Register with Will Hackney, Loamlands have filled their ranks at various times with a rotating cast of friends. For the show at Kings, they played in a duo formation, but it was Kym and her voice that took center stage, as she told stories built around Southern queer culture, often drawing from her own personal experiences. It was an opening set that was at times raw, funny, emotional, and thoroughly engaging throughout.