Thursday, May 5, 2011

May 4, 2011 Rebecca Jordan and Casey Abrams

Last night at Deepwells Acoustic Long Island hosted Rebecca Jordan and Casey Abrams. Rebecca Jordan turned out to be a real surprise. You sensed immediately that in the rough and tumble music world, Rebecca just might make it. Her stage presence was remarkable for everything that it was not: she was never showy or theatrical. Instead she was demure, unpretentious, and gentle. Yet when she smiled at the audience or spoke about her life and her songs, the audience was attentive and embracing. Her songs showed a wide range of interests from folk to jazz to gospel. She addressed war in her song Battlefield and managed to resist the clich├ęs of dead soldiers while drawing us into the harsh realities of loss. Her song This Town initially drew me in, but I soon tired of it from the endless repetition of the words this town which she wove through the song. It dealt with one person moving on, and those that stayed behind. When it turned out that the one that stayed behind died to a drug overdose, I cringed. If this had been a metaphorical death, I would have been happier, but if it was a real death, as I suspect, it’s time to move on. Love Deluxe was an exquisitely sensuous song. It was the song that first displayed Rebecca Jordan’s range and depth as a performer. Her final song Anchor sung in a true gospel style was rousing and moving. Overall, I found Rebecca Jordan to be an artist in search of herself and her niche in the music world. When she put down her guitar, she broke through her limitations as instrumentalist and erupted with a quiet intensity and passion that has the power to one day electrify. My sense is that folk is not her thing. Jazz, soul, and gospel is where she seemed most comfortable. Her accompanist was absolutely essential. With a minimalism that never overshadowed her he allowed her to shine. With a full band behind her, I wondered if there were even greater heights she could reach.

Casey Abrams turned out to be a big disappointment. I thought that he sounded better in rehearsal than he did in his live performance. I kept thinking Southern rock without the rock, the Allman Brothers without, the inventive licks of the Brothers, Sweet Home Alabama without the passion and driving force. His musical compositions in and of themselves were interesting. Songs like The Scarecrow and the Tin Man and It’s Rained Everyday Since They Closed Down the Zoo, showed off his talents as a song writer, reaching for themes that are complex and interesting. Yet when the set was over I realized that nothing had connected with me, nothing jumped out at me. Sadly, he suffered every musician’s nightmare when he blanked out on his final number. At first, my heart ached for him, but when he persisted in playing the song substituting “la, la, la,” for the lyrics while he improvised on his guitar, I suddenly said enough. I’d like to hear him with a driving band, and something that amps up his vocals. Overall, he never varied his songs and they became lost in one big muddle.

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