'Anyone heard of True Detective?' asks guitarist Joshua Grange, as if it might seem ungrateful to leave the HBO series unthanked. Lera Lynn's audience has been massively widened since she featured as barroom chanteuse and Greek chorus in its second season. As well as providing exposure, this role gives a few pointers as to the rest of Lynn's work: the scene-creating skill everywhere in her writing; that glassy stare that makes her seem literally iconic; the huge streak of noir right down the centre of her songs.
However, it was a five-year-old cover of TV on the Radio's 'Wolf Like Me' that captured my attention, and showed Lynn to be a Americana artist who broadens that genre's terms out from its notional heartland. Her newer work has an East-coast sheen (think streamlined Strokes) and plenty of signifiers throw you off-scent, like the drum machines, distorted vocals or evocative industrial textures. Though she still sings her country-as classic 'Whiskey', tonight's gig could just as well be accompanied by a Tequila Sunrise – the cocktail requested on tour by Mick Jagger as he cantered across all fifty states.
Cutting through the chatter of this balmy evening, solo support George Cosby's voice brought the Bullingdon to attention. Belying his presentable indie appearance, a larynx apparently borrowed from the Walker Brothers emitted something arrestingly deep, and cloaked heartbroken songs and an echo-dripping guitar with ageless ennui. Whom the mature audience had come to see however, probably unswayed even by HBO, was Lera Lynn. Her all-white get-up reminiscent of Jenny Lewis (partly sourced from Reign, apparently, due to a laundry fail) befitted a star in the ascendant, in front of a black-clad band and black backdrop.
A Springsteen cover early on in the set and her minor-key reworking of 'Ring of Fire' demonstrate that Lynn now employs Americana-associated references that hit home even for countryphobes. Her use of country tropes has always been subtly subversive, but this is a significant shift. Old linedance-friendly hits are still played with aplomb tonight – the difference now being her electric, rejoicing in electricity, and urbane in their (presumably sweltering) attire. As this is the last date of their tour before Lynn and Grange play European duo shows, there's a bit of carpe to tonight's performance, as the instrumentalists crunch and weave with Nashville professionalism and rock-star verve. New tracks such as 'Shapeshifter' are thrilling and dark-hearted, and 'Little Ruby' sounds for all the world like the best of Sheryl Crow with a storyline transplanted from True Detective.
A rather polite crowd response notwithstanding, the Bullingdon showed its love for Lynn and what she does. New album Resistor has something to please the Brooklyn scenester, the Kentuckian fan of a previous Lynn and, importantly, the everyperson in thrall to a foreign yet familiar culture.