Monday, August 25, 2008

Weekend Roundup Pt: 1 - Sarah Jaffe @ The Cavern - 8/21/08

I cannot imagine a venue more appropriate for Sarah Jaffe than the Cavern. The venue's brutally understated stage lighting has a single point of failure: one solitary lightbulb. The walls seem to crowd in on audience and artist alike. The Cavern is built and lit as a virtual confessional booth for musicians. No other site is better suited for Sarah Jaffe's tuneful vulnerability, a woman for whom, perhaps obsessively, nothing may be kept secret.

Sarah Jaffe's tendency toward dark honesty is well-known by now in local music circles. Jaffe has even achieved national levels of recognition, having been selected as NPR's Song of the Day on 8/21. Sarah is known for her Dostoevskyish brand of self-consciousness, persistent as she is in exploring her more ignoble motivations. Her threadbare compositions provide the perfect backdrop. Assembled from small bits of guitar and cello, you can almost seem them bend under the gravity of her penitential voice.

Jaffe's fragility in verse is held in tension by her abilities as a performer. Her voice is as insistent and flawless as her guitar work. Meekly resting behind her large-framed glasses, her downcast gaze is somehow as arresting as a direct stare. Sarah can command even those segments of the audience that hadn't planned on listening, the ones who willingly hush their conversations when Jaffe pulls back the sound to a whisper. The effect at The Cavern felt like you were dropped into film noir or a T.S. Eliot Poem, like you were having a cigarette with Tom Waits. I have enough confidence in Sarah to believe someone like him would have been there last Thursday if he had the time and requisite anonymity. With any justice, that's just the sort of recognition Sarah Jaffe will one day receive.

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