by Al Kaufman
Brandi Shearer has a voice you like. It has the soulful sweetness of a Norah Jones, with the smoldering sexuality and seductive darkness of Cowboy Junkies’ Margo Timmins, only with a little less darkness (hence the title?). It is a voice with which you’ll want to sit by the fire and drink wine.
Close to Dark is a first for Shearer. It is her first CD of almost all songs that she wrote. Up until this point, she has mostly interpreted jazz and blues standards. It is also the inaugural release from Amoeba Records, a new venture from the beloved independent West Coast record store chain of the same name. The label has since signed Verve artist Kate Walsh and independent Quincy Coleman, to tour with Shearer.
On Close to Dark, Shearer demonstrates that she can write to her talents. Her songs brim with emotion, often complimented by just the right touch of strings or horns, without bubbling over. Her songs saute more than they sizzle. They build a delicate tension that never quite breaks.
Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to some unsatisfying results. Songs like "I’ve Had Enough" practically scream for Shearer to, well, scream. Instead she holds her vocals in check; choosing to smolder instead of building to an inferno. But most of her stuff, from the country/gospel-tinged "Congratulations", to her almost rocking "Heaven," to her numerous smokey blues numbers, generate enough heat to strike fear in the hearts of snowmen everywhere.
Brandi Shearer plays Eddie’s Attic with Kate Walsh and Quincy Coleman on Thursday, May 22nd. 8 pm. $12.
For more info on the Amoeba
Presents tour, go here: http://www.amoeba.com/content/tour-2008.html