Concert Review: Michaela Anne @ Capital Turnaround (4/1/22)

Michaela Anne (Photo Courtesy of Five Head Entertainment)
Michaela Anne (Photo Courtesy of Five Head Entertainment)

Michaela Anne returned to DC for the first date on a two week tour, opening for The Milk Carton Kids.

Her new album, Oh To Be That Free (via Yep Rock Records), comes out this June, and she gave the expectant audience a small taste of the album with her sincere and honest style of Americana/country.

The Milk Carton Kids crowd was in for an emotional surprise, as Michaela stood on the spare stage and performed a stripped-down, guitar strumming set of six introspective songs.

I had seen her perform once before, at DC9 a few years ago, and for that show she had a full band accompanying her. But this time she mirrored the main act, only guitars were played at Capital Turnaround that evening.

She eased into the set with “Two Fools”, from her acclaimed previous album Desert Dove. The song is about ‘two fools that don’t know how to say goodbye’ even though they’ve tried many times. Michaela’s voice carried over the now intrigued audience, as many nearby people glanced at each other with raised eyebrows, intimating ‘oh, she’s good’.

Currently living in Nashville, Michaela has a long history with Washington, DC. Her father was a Naval submarine captain, and as a military kid, she lived in DC for a time growing up. She told a number of stories during the short set, letting the audience get a window into her life’s journey and the inspirations for much of her music. She was glad to be performing live again, also having played at The Hamilton Live in January, but otherwise this two-week tour would be the longest during the last two years.

Later came “I’m Only Human” from Oh To Be That Free, which speaks to embracing the freedom to do things for yourself, even with all the flaws and negative feelings that are part and parcel of being human. This was a more upbeat song, and while I enjoyed the intimacy of performing each song with just a guitar and a voice, I would also be keen to hear it again live someday with a full backing band. 

Michaela ended the set with another song from Free, “Who You Are”, which packed an emotional punch. The moving lyrics paired with a soaring chorus so heartfelt that, if you had been inclined to look, tears may have been present in the audience. She wrote it a couple years ago, and explained that the meaning of the song has changed over time, but that it is ultimately about learning to love better. She found when her mother had a stroke, that her father becoming her mother’s primary caretaker was the biggest inspiration for love.

Do get yourself a copy of Oh To Be That Free when it comes out in June and be on the look out for the next time Michaela Anne comes through DC. Maybe she’ll bring the full band next time, and hopefully as the headliner so she can regale us with even more songs.

Just a quick word about The Milk Carton Kids: They are great live as well. With the driest and wittiest banter you will be lucky enough to experience.

Setlist

  • Two Fools
  • Trees (I think)
  • Oh To Be That Free Again (I think)
  • By Our Design
  • I’m Only Human
  • Who You Are

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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