Saturday, April 16, 2011

January 6, 2011 Putnam Smith & Jennings

Last night, Putnam Smith initially dazzled with his explosive banjo style. I found the songs interesting for the first half of his set, especially because he chose such mundane topics to sing about, yet elevated the ordinary to a higher plain. But he never did much with his voice and so missed opportunities to take us further or to hit the emotional core that his banjo playing worked to make up for. His guitar and mandolin should have been left at home. The guitar playing was adequate, the mandolin even less so. But by the second half I had lost interest in the songs. They never went far enough. The banjo is a hard instrument to make interesting for sustained periods and Putnam reached his limit. He did have an engaging stage presence and a personality that will make him a darling of house concerts.

Jennings had a beautiful smile and a lovely endearing presence. Her piano playing was limited at best. Her style never varied both on the keyboard and vocally. While she has the potential to become a break out performer, each song very quickly faded into the next until they were inseparable and unmemorable which is a shame since she has the capacity to connect with her audience. Even when she was singing about her mother, the lyrics where lost in her singing style. While she expressed her gratitude to the audience for remaining so attentive, we were in fact struggling to remain focused. She’s got a great range and could make much better use of it through variety of songs. Afterwards, I listened to her CD and was so glad she left the band at home. At the concert I found her percussionist to be overpowering, on the CDs I found the band techno and distracting. I would have liked to hear her solo. But she should learn that variety is the spice of concert life when it comes to play lists. While she heralds from Nashville, she looked New Orleans Mardi Gras to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment