Goulding Grabs You, No Twerking Necessary

Ellie Goulding

Wednesday, April 23

Whether performing at Coachella and the VMAs, appearing on the Divergent soundtrack, or getting lyrically dissed on Saturday Night Live by her done-wrong ex Ed Sheeran, sylphlike UK songstress Ellie Goulding comes across as the typical pop-culture darling. Like a certain other pop phenom whose name is damned near inescapable, it would be easy to assume she’s twerking her way to fame. But the singer/songwriter confirms her musical chops and reaffirms her place at the big kids’ table with her sophomore album, Halcyon.

What sets Goulding apart from countless other EDM singers is her lilting vocals, which breathe life into her songs’ catchy but stylized dance beats. Her newest folktronica singles, “Burn” and “Beating Heart,” build on the otherworldly beauty of her breakout 2010 hit, “Lights.” “Burn” has been playing on Top-40 radio stations since last July with no sign of disappearing from playlists anytime soon, while “Beating Heart” has become the anthem of Divergent fans everywhere. Barring a few contemplative ballads, Goulding doesn’t stray much from her calling card, ethereal soprano melodies over gorgeously feminine techno compositions; but her signature sound is still fresh enough that you can listen to her entire album on repeat without getting bored.

Goulding’s resume is legit; she’s sung for the likes of the Obamas and the British royals (at the royal wedding, no less). Famous friends like Lorde, Taylor Swift, and Katy Perry publicly gush over her instrumental singing voice. At Coachella, she appeared on stage with her band and a slew of backup singers—not backup dancers. Her unexpected vocal improv (birdlike with startling raspy undertones) reminds me of what makes live jazz so entertaining. I imagine that in a more intimate venue like the Paramount (awesome for popular acts because there are practically no nosebleed seats in the house), your eardrums will be drenched in every celestial nuance of her chirping vocals. You’ll probably be able to make it through an entire Ellie Goulding performance without checking Facebook every five minutes—even without any onstage twerking. With Conway. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 682-1414, stgpresents.org/paramount. 7 p.m. $40 adv./$45 DOS.

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