Notting Hill Arts Centre

All blinking baby-blues and flowing blonde tresses...

All blinking baby-blues and flowing blonde tresses, Bostonian Mary Lou Lord looks like an astronaut’s wife, or the star of some squeaky clean ’60s US sitcom. Truth is, of course, she’s a thoughtful, mixed-up type who started off strumming a traumatised acoustic in dingy subway tunnels.

An alt-troubadour whose impeccable taste is matched by some pretty fine songs of her own, she plays tonight like she’s still busking before disinterested commuters – not these smitten fans who gather at her feet. “I didn’t write a set list, so I’m flying by the seat of my pants,” she apologises, before delivering a faultless batch of gently country, acoustic pop.

Covers of The Bevis Frond‘s ‘He’d Be A Diamond’ and GBV‘s ‘Blimps Go 90’ prove Lord‘s obscure pop sensibilities, while her originals sew ’90s indie references inside almost-too-perfect ’60s folk-pop. A rewritten ‘His Indie World’ namechecks a dozen alternative luminaries, while ‘Some Jingle Jangle Morning’ hints at a darker history than its sunshine melodies suggest.

And, of course, that darker history has us second-guessing just who each of her songs is referring to. Perhaps Kurt Cobain, her one-time paramour, perhaps Courtney Love. But as she herself points out, there’s more to Mary Lou Lord than just who she’s dated. And performances like this prove her so right.