Anthony Da Costa‘s recent “first four Mondays” August residency at the Living Room in Manhattan was excellent. It included a number of guests appearances, most notably Anthony’s longtime collaborator Abbie Gardner (nights 2 and 4) and singer-songwriter A. J. Roach (night 2) as well as a fiddler on the first night who’s name I cannot recall and Oliver Hill (?), an undergraduate at Yale, who played viola on night 4. Anthony, who’s most recent album, “Not Afraid of Nothing,” was released just before the series started closed each evening with a sing-a-long including “Just Like a Woman” on night 3 and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” on night 4. The nights were a mix of ADC classics like “Upstate Living” and “Devil’s Won” and well selected covers by A.J. Roach, Johnny Cash (Long Black Vail on night 3 was full of wonderful harmonies), and others.
However, what made the series so memorable was that it was confirmation that Anthony has entered into a new stage in his career and his development. Gone from his songs are what I used to think of as the “young moments” that would sometimes crack through the well-developed lyrics and song structures that have men past mid-life calling Anthony “an old soul.” Anthony’s lyrics still have moments that give me a jolt, but now it’s because his leap forward seems to have allowed him to access a set of images and feelings that are moments suggestive of reflection and experience that most adults probably never have. They add a raw touch to Anthony’s songs that, for a moment, pull you out of the aesthetic he has created and remind you that he is exercising solid control over his songs and audiences. All of this has me excited for the New York chapter of Anthony’s career which will begin in a few weeks when he begins at Columbia. After he and Abbie debut Denmark.