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Review: Jenny O. at Neumos 9/21

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At some point in the distant future there will be a geriatric Jenny O. (now Granny O.) and she will hold court in a rumpus room playing country and blues songs on a guitar as old and loved as she is. She’ll be sitting on a rocking chair surrounded by humans and androids; It will be all smiles. She proved this to be an inevitability last night at Neumos.

She and Father John Misty have been touring, and their sold-out show here in Seattle drew a crowd that arrived primed and ready to see Sub Pop‘s rising star. It was a natural combination. Before FJM came on stage to alternate between goofing with us and breaking our hearts, Jenny O. stood alone with just her voice and her guitar. She had us almost immediately.

On her Home EP there is a full band, and Automechanic (out in Feb.) also features drums, bass, etc. To see Jenny O. come out on stage at Neumos with and have it be a solo performance was unexpected. I was ready to stand in judgement, but there was nothing disappointing about her performance. It reminded me a bit of my favorite Jeff Buckley album Live at Sin E. It was just him and his guitar, and however many people there were in that room holding their breath. If you don’t know the album, here’s why you should. But I digress.

Listening to ‘Well OK Honey’ from the Home EP, one’s mind conjures visions of Phil Spector-ish 1960’s pop with a folky edge. Last night when Jenny performed that song with just her and an electric guitar, it changed to much more of a Mutations-era Beck. It was one of the first songs where I could tell that she was really loving what she was doing. She plays her guitar as if she’s constantly realizing how awesome it feels to play guitar. Between songs she tucks her hair behind her ears, doesn’t quite look at the audience, and says thanks.

Before her last song she took the time to re-tune her guitar, because anything worth doing is worth doing right. Like that Jeff Buckley album, Jenny’s set ended with a beautiful bit of a lullaby. The cheers got louder, the room chatter got quieter and quieter even as hordes of people filed in, and she left us wanting more. She had to have a huge smile on her face when she walked back stage.

For part two of CultureMob’s coverage of Father John Misty’s fantastic finish, stay tuned for a full report from my colleague (and FJM’s newest tambourine shaker) Lindsey Bluher.