The daughters of Joni and Joan are alive and well and living these days in places like Buenos Aires and Portland, Ore. They also were on stage Tuesday night at the Troubadour
Demonstrating to a transfixed crowd how they've absorbed the lessons of the aforementioned Mitchell, Baez and other elder stateswomen of the singer-songwriter sisterhood.
But Argentine Abstract Expressionist Juana Molina, who headlined Tuesday's show, and Oregonian urban folkie Laura Gibson, who helped open it, also are finding inventive new ways to update and transmute two distinctly feminine singing styles and sensibilities.
Molina's L.A. appearances have grown enormously in confidence and artistic daring since her first, reportedly faltering debut at McCabe's in the late '90s. A Times critic's description of that inauspicious event used words like disastrous" and visibly distraught" to describe the former com- ic actress' U.S. coming-out party.
Whoever that flummoxed woman with the malnourished guitar was, she bore no resemblance to the poised, playful, utterly in-control performer who ripped into her Troubadour set with Un Da" (One Day), the aggressively hypnotic title track off her latest album. Hair loose and torso stripped down to a black camisole, the better to reveal her well-toned arms, Molina set to strumming her guitar and electronically looping her uncanny melange of digitally processed chants, scats, bird calls, banshee wails and other mystic incantations.
Although she was backed for most of the night, very ably, by Gregor Hilbe on drums and Martin Iannaccone on bass, Molina reserves the right to be upstaged only by herself. Live alone, sleep alone, work alone, do everything alone," she sang in Spanish on her second number, Vive Solo," a sentiment supported by her on-stage auto-efficiency as singer, guitarist and sound-mixing sorceress.