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Thursday, December 14

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Review Tue Jun 29 2010

Review: Sahara Smith, Mason Jennings @ Lincoln Hall, 6/26

I have such high hopes for young up-and-comer Sahara Smith. She's clearly a talented singer, has a sweet stage presence, and a charming, love-sick alt-country songwriting sensibility that would do well in radio play. In the dim light of her show Saturday night, couples moved close to one another on the broad main floor of Lincoln Hall and swayed to and fro to the sound of her voice. The only flaw I found in her performance, in support of Mason Jennings on last weekend, was her stage confidence. She's young, yes (all of 21 years), but she's got a pretty sweet set of pipes, as evident on her songs from her upcoming album Myth of the Heart. Songs like "All I Need" drive home the young Austinite's lovesick dreaminess that I'm sure we'll hear on XRT soon enough. But she's still a little green on stage — her voice not quite reaching its obvious potential. I want to hear her open up, watch her stand confidently in the spotlight, and sing to that man she loves (and the ones that got away). I want to be rattled by how her voice fills the room the way it fills the speakers on the stereo. Maybe that's some of T. Bone Burnett's magic (who oversaw the album) in what you can hear in her songs that's not quite traveling with her over state lines with her yet. Or maybe she just needs a little push in the right direction — solo in the spotlight — just her and her guitar and the microphone. I want to see her again after she's had some highway under her wheels, and maybe even a little more love, and a little more heartbreak, in her soul.

The opposite of a young ingenue is the veteran of the tour bus, Mason Jennings. Hailing from up the road in Minneapolis, Jennings played two shows in Chicago last weekend, both at Lincoln Hall. His second night, Saturday, he came on stage to thunderous applause, and announced the show, while acoustic, would also be shaped by fans' requests from the previous night. Jennings, who mentioned he'd been performing for 18 years, has a Dylan-like lilt to his singing voice, and a mop of curly hair I couldn't help but compare to writer Dave Eggers. But even in his well-worn Earth shoes he's mesmerizing on stage. The range of his songbook spanned two centuries. He went through newer songs like "The Field" off of 2009's Blood of Man and simple, playful (yet-unrecorded) ditties like "So Many Ways to Die". He ran through "Your New Man", "I Love You And Buddha Too" and the beautiful "Fighter Girl" from 2008's In The Ever. There was also the sweet "Summer Dress" from 2002's Simple Life and "Butterfly" from his self-titled 1997 debut album. Jennings has almost a Steve Goodman-esque storytelling quality in his songs. As they follow, one after another they are whimsical and then serious, beautiful and then brooding. He has a way of capturing an audience's attention (as demonstrated by the superfans down front who swayed and sang along to every song) and surely has many years of guitar playing and songwriting left in him.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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