Singer/songwriter Aimee Mann to perform at Fairfield University's Quick Center

Singer/songwriter Aimee Mann to perform at Fairfield University's Quick Center

Singer/songwriter Aimee Mann, who rose to pop fame in the '80s before evolving into one of America's most evocative songwriters, will appear on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 8 p.m. at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Acclaimed British singer/songwriter David Ford, who recently toured with Gomez, will open for Mann.

Known for a sharp, spare style that resembles short stories set to music, Mann has won critical raves for her solo recordings, including Oscar- and Grammy-nominated songs on the "Magnolia" film soundtrack and her most recent album, "The Forgotten Arm." Tough to pinhole in a genre, Mann's music moves seamlessly from rock to pop to alt-country, all the while considering the inexorable pull of human relationships.

"All the songs are stunning," a Washington Times reporter wrote in a review of one of Mann's concerts. "They are heavy and light at the same time - delivered in a conversational manner that is chilling considering the deep emotions in the songs."

Born in Roanoke, Virginia, Mann attended Berklee College of Music in Boston before dropping out to sing with her first punk rock band, The Young Snakes. She first hit the pop scene as the lead singer of 'Til Tuesday, a band she co-founded with Berklee classmate and former boyfriend Michael Hausman. Their 1985 single "Voices Carry," about a relationship gone wrong, won frequent airplay and was a staple of MTV's lineup, winning a MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist. The band released three albums in all before breaking up in 1990, when Mann left for a solo career.

Once on her own, Mann had trouble getting her music heard, mostly due to the collapse of her first record label, which released 1993's "Whatever." The album won critical praise, as did her sophomore outing, "I'm With Stupid." During the recording of her second album, she met and commiserated with fellow struggling songwriter Michael Penn. Friendship turned to love and the two married in 1997.

Penn also brought Mann what was arguably her biggest career break. He and her former 'Til Tuseday bandmate Jon Brion had penned a soundtrack for filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, who became the couple's close friend. He asked Mann to contribute eight songs to his 1999 film "Magnolia," including the Academy Award-nominated "Save Me." Anderson was so taken with the songs he worked from them to create the film's memorable characters and situations.

Unsatisfied with the way her music reached - or didn't reach - listeners, Mann founded SuperEgo Records that same year. She self-released "Bachelor No. 2" to both critical approval and greater sales and followed that with the beautiful "Lost in Space." In addition, she and Penn began an irregular, ongoing nationwide tour with their concept performance called Acoustic Vaudeville, which combines music and standup comedy from friends Janeane Garofalo, Patton Oswalt and David Cross.

Mann's most recent album, 2005's "The Forgotten Arm," is also a concept: The songs take listeners on the journey of two lovers who meet at the Virginia state fair and run off together. Inspired by the early music of Elton John, Rod Stewart and even Mott the Hoople, Mann said she feels she understands these characters and their setting intimately.

"I pictured it taking place in the early '70s - during my own experience at the state fair at that time," she says on her website. "You know, that kind of white trashy redneck factor which I have a real weakness for. So I wanted the sound of the music to also reflect that time period because I have this really vivid memory of the songs they played at the fair when you're riding the Himalaya."

While her subject matter is often grim, her concerts are anything but, said reviewer Thor Christensen of The Dallas Morning News. "Her melodies were so gorgeous and her songs so well crafted that the show never dragged - nor did her velvety singing," he wrote.

David Ford wrote, produced and performed in its entirety his critically acclaimed 2005 album "I Sincerely Apologise For All the Trouble I've Caused," having recorded it at his English home on an Apple G4 computer. Released in the United States in 2006, the unusual collection drew impressive press accolades.

"Like Damien Rice and Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, Mr. Ford builds stately, inexorable crescendos," wrote a reviewer in The New York Times. Rolling Stone gave it three stars and praised Ford's "gentle voice and witty honesty."

Tickets are $40 and $35. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit

Posted On: 09-01-2006 10:09 AM

Volume: 39 Number: 19