JENNIFER CASTLE at the Great Hall, Thursday, September 25. Rating: NNNN
On record, the songs on Jennifer Castle’s new album, Pink City, sparkle with a host of gracefully arranged instruments including sax, harmonica and flute. Live, at her hometown record-release show at the Great Hall (the same day she appeared on the cover of this magazine), they were stripped back to their most naked: Castle took the candlelit stage alone, and played them on either piano, electric or acoustic guitar, or, for her encore, with no accompaniment at all.
The result was far from wanting, however. Starting out on piano, Castle executed a pristine version of Nature, pausing for a mere beat before transitioning into the title track to great applause. The guitar-plucked tunes sounded bluesier and her vocals were even more distinct than usual – she often hung out in a much lower, huskier register, which contrasted beautifully with her high trill.
Castle’s great comedic timing was punctuated live, when you could see an expression on her face or a flick of her head – especially on the song You Don’t Have To Be from her third record, Castlemusic, which got big laughs every time the punchline came around, “and honey, don’t be long with my drink.”
It would have been a shame not to see any of the great local Pink City collaborators, so it was nice that Ryan Driver came out to accompany Castle on the piano for a few tunes, the most memorable being Sparta. It’s Pink City’s most band-jammy tune, but for a Jennifer Castle show, two were more than enough.
Don’t miss our cover story with Jennifer Castle here.