“I’m an old girl, as far as girls go,” sings Heather Christian in one of her self-penned songs. Indeed, the young Christian does sound like a very old girl, her voice wavering winningly between sleepy grandmother and snarly kitten. With her untidy blond bob and petite features, she’s a pleasure to see and hear. The same cannot be said of North, the sweet but stale performance piece Christian’s crafted for herself and her backing band, the Arbornauts.
Characterized as being “about the nature of longing,” North is a mishmash of some delightful elements (Christian’s voice, Sun King–era costumes, free biscotti) and some dreadful ones (inexpert video, art-world pretensions, dances based on airline-safety demonstrations). It seems churlish to scold an artist for multi-genre ambitions, but the piece would have been much more satisfying as a straightforward concert—well, maybe a straightforward concert that includes those costumes and cookies. Attention flags during the movement and video bits, then revives when the music starts again. Though the program lists Christian as both conceiver and director, North needs more direction than this old girl can offer.