It's a fantastic place too. The sort of record shop you could spend hours in - and the sort of record shop they'd probably happily have you spend hours in. As well as checking out new releases by artists like Kelela, Sudan Archives, and Protomartyr there's a wide literary section (books ranging from Leo Tolstoy, Noam Chomsky, and Sinclair Lewis to James Meek and Stuart Cosgrove.
You can pick up a beer, soft drink, or an iced Nutella latte if you'd prefer, and you can even choose from a reasonably wide range of toasted sandwiches. Both the halloumi legend and the avocado supreme looked pretty tempting but in the end I settled for a bottle of Gingerella and a quick chat with a friendly staff member about the Carolina Chocoate Drops as I purchased the latest copies of both Songlines and Wire magazine.
For 1pm on a Tuesday afternoon, Phoebe had drawn a reasonably large, and appreciative, crowd. Dressed all in black and armed with, firstly an acoustic, and then an electric guitar the set was short and sweet. Fairly low key as befits the album, Bridgers was accompanied all the way through by guitarist, and 'best mate', Harrison Whitford who, if going by his woolly hat and gloves, was finding October in London to be a tougher ask, weatherwise, than their native Los Angeles.
Smoke Signals, with its tales of the deaths of Bowie and Lemmy and listening to 'How Soon Is Now in an eighties sedan' is wispy and frail yet betrays a quiet confidence that, together with the almost Joni Mitchellesque allusive lyrics, makes the best of Bridgers' songs worth revisiting.
Scott Street's resigned air, and stories of feeling old and friends all getting married, seems almost precocious in this 23 year old, and Whitford's pedal steel style effects only served to highlight both that precocity and that resignation. In her shout outs to Richard Thompson and Morrissey, as well as in her choice of 'It'll All Work Out' to pay tribute to recently departed Tom Petty, we can easily identify Bridgers as combining folk rock tropes with those of the sensitive singer-songwriter yet remaining unafraid to glance, if only fleetingly and in an understated way, in the direction of classic rock.
The lovely Georgia is built of similar stuff yet the lyrics reveal our emotionally mature, and worldly-wise, narrator to be singing, potentially, from the perspective of a teenage girl fantasising about marrying the titular Georgia's son at some unspecified date in the future. The song's so full of mud, rain, and drowning that with its sense of impending doom it's like a small personalised sketch retelling the time of the biblical flood. A little bit of Southern Gothic that's ridden a scooter down the I-10 from California to the Deep South.
She finishes off with Motion Sickness and it's the only time she even slightly raises the tempo. It's a tale of faked orgasms, hypnotherapy, and mutually destructive relationships and it even skirts the bigger, underlying, themes of interconnectedness, articulation, and the nature of love itself. No wonder she got fairly animated singing it. The last line of the last song was 'Surrender to the sound'. It's fair to say I did. But gently. It seems likely there'll be more impressive songs, more impressive performances to come, from Phoebe Bridgers. This was a marker and not a bad one at all.