Born in Bulgaria and now based in St. Petersburg, Florida, Geri X is a punk rock folkie in the tradition of Billy Bragg. But where Bragg liberally mixes the political and the personal, Geri X eschews protest songs, instead focusing on matters of the heart.
With four releases in the last two years (and a new album in the works), Geri X is nothing if not prolific. 2009’s "Anthems of a Mended Heart" features jaunty folk pop (“Kiss on Both Eyelids”), Eastern European torch song (“3000 Lines of Defense”) and epic balladry (the nine minutes plus “Most Days”). On last year’s Whiskey and Cigarettes, X explores darker territory, both sonically and lyrically. The title track’s allusion to desire as a vice that offers comfort is sung in a melancholic vocal cured by smoke and spirit. “Cemetery” strips song and sentiment to the barest of elements: voice and guitar and, no, you can’t go home again. “The Architect” sees the world crumbling, relationships breaking down and a higher power that may no longer have any interest in what he has created.
Stateside was lucky enough to catch Geri X at an intimate Chicago venue as she was winding around the Midwest on a recent tour. Playing alone, accompanied only by her black, Babicz Spider electric guitar, Geri X played material from both Anthems of a Mended Heart and Whiskey and Cigarettes, along with a heart-rending cover of The Drive-By Truckers’ “Goddamn Lonely Love.” She cut a striking figure onstage; her green-streaked rockabilly hairdo and black leather jacket at odds with a pair of canvas ballet flats made all the more noticeable by the petite singer’s habit of standing on tiptoe over the microphone stand.
Seeing Geri X live, Stateside was reminded of the effect that a strong performer can have on an audience. Like Billy Bragg, she delivered her very personal songs with only a world-weary voice and a plugged-in guitar.