Singer/songwriter Katie Trotta has become a fixture in a variety of local outlets, but coffeehouses in particular. ("I just don't like smoky bars," she said.) Wherever the case, when she performs she commands attention with her raw and uncompromising style.
Katie Trotta: "Everything's something new."
Every Trotta show is something a little different; she's a prolific writer who draws on her life experiences for each new piece. More than half the songs at her most recent show, at the far-Northside Starbuck's, were new work composed after her debut album, Release.
Her newest life experience has been her first semester at college, which has sent her songwriting in a whole new direction.
"It's not like anything I expected," she said. "Everything's something new."
Her voice is husky and haunting, a journey into an inner world that is not always a pleasant place but is constantly a revelation. "Just so you guys know, this one's a little dark, so don't expect a happy ending," she warned the audience before performing "Enough," and that was a bit of an understatement; it's definitely a depress-a-thon.
But it's not all melancholy and darkness; songs like "Lazy Sunday" open up the occasional ray of light. And with the expansion of her life experience since college and her debut album, she and her lyrics find ever more repositories of hope.
Trotta's appeal is a combination of her precocious maturity - 19 going on 35 - and great vulnerability as she reveals her deepest self in her songs, pounding away at the keyboard as she pours out her heart. A searing vulnerability combined with a quiet confidence.
Trotta has also picked up a knack for finding solid performing partners; she's tag-teamed with the likes of Rochelle Bucher and Jessica Weiser. This time around, she introduced Indianapolis to the guitar and singing of Cory Hill. Hill's sound straddles the fence between protest folk and the Grand Ole Opry. "I picked up a lot from the jam bands, like the Grateful Dead and Phish," he said.
Though only 21, he sings with a voice beyond his years, much like Trotta herself. His is the gravelly, weary voice of the old-old-school country singers, Hank Williams Sr. and Johnny Cash, with a little bit of Dylan. He did about half original and half covers, and he did justice to the classics in his performance.
Starting in the spring, Trotta will be keeping an accelerated schedule of live performances.
Keep up with Katie's schedule at www.katietrotta.com.