NYC-based ambient R&B singer Autre Ne Veut brought his soul-drenched brand of ballads to Bushwick’s newest venue Elsewhere (599 Johnson Ave) last Thursday evening, to a crowd that was hyped to hear some slow and gut-wrenchingly emotional jams. Autre Ne Veut (which translates as “I want no other”), whose real name is Arthur Ashin, was performing with a live drummer and keyboardist/backup vocalist, as he commanded the mic and occasionally riffed on keys.
The live performance could have benefitted from a larger touring band, rather than relying on electronic backup. He seemed to be going for a very raw emotional sound, to supplement his already raw voice—he was sipping on tea throughout the set—and I felt like the dramatic texture of his performance could have been amplified and felt a little more mature with a more robust backing sound. Throughout the set I kept wanting him to bust into Purple Rain—he seemed clearly influenced by Prince slowjams—and that’s sort of why I felt like a larger band and thicker sound would have made the performance more engaging instead of having it feel a little like he’s a one-trick pony.
That said, it was clear that Autre Ne Veut was opening his heart to the audience, and at one point he walked out, self-possessed, into the crowd simply to sing falsetto. And that takes guts. Once he took back to the stage to sing solo and play the piano keyboard, he broke it down again with new material and personal lyrics, sincerely wearing his beating heart on his sleeve.