The female singer-songwriter is back. Admittedly, often with an all-male band in the back, but who are you looking at, anyway? I managed to see two acts at one of the LES’s most venerated musical establishments, despite battling a furious case of the Mondays. On deck? Well, I’d come to see Jane Bruce, a Joni Mitchell-type with a guitar and a single spotlight. I’d met Jane a couple of weeks prior at the Bowery Poetry Club, when she waltzed in and won the first ever “This is Your Song” competition, Bowery Poetry’s singer-songwriter open mic.
Before Jane came Caroline Reese and the Drifting Fifth, a Philly country band that yes, sounds exactly like what you would expect a Philly country band to sound like–a polished take on a road-trip sound, with a guitarist who could have been the fifth member of Mumford & Sons. While I’ve always been a little skeptical of the affected “country” accent (come on girl, we know you’re from cheese steak county), the vocals were simple and powerful, and the mix of electric and acoustic was unusual and highly effective. I’ll also give them bonus points for aesthetic–the drummer wore a faded To Kill A Mockingbird shirt… likely the first time I’ve seen a drummer who’s so much as laid a finger on a copy of TKAM. If any of this sounds like your schtick, check out their new EP, “The Electric Year.”
When the band left the stage, Jane Bruce took to the stool with a humble panache. Joni and Ani would have been proud. Her bell-clear voice wrapped around beautiful stories about love and life in New York, entrancing the audience with her “sad man songs,” as she dubbed them. Miss Bruce had better get into a recording studio fast, is all I’m saying. So a shout-out to all my lady musician friends, for giving me my first non-sausage-fest musical evening in a very, very long time. And as for the Bowery Electric, you’ll be seeing me soon.
Jane Bruce, in her element.