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Jenny O. at the Bootleg theater on Monday February 21st

It is somewhat surprising when young songwriters have been able to absorb all kinds of music, have made them their own with ease and have even applied a certain fresh twist to them. Jenny O. seems to be one of these young songwriters, with her repertoire all over the musical map. When she performed on Monday night at the Bootleg theater, she plays with joy and candor her eclectic tunes, without taking herself seriously for one minute.

Her residency seemed to be a friendship-affair as she had invited her college roommate, who goes under the moniker Gregory and the Hawk, to open the show. Meredith Godreau, her real name, performed quiet acoustic tunes with her unusual guitar, switching sometimes to the harp, ‘an instrument which is supposed to have special powers, but really doesn’t’, as she said. The atmosphere transpiring from her songs was melancholic, partially dramatic, and her voice had this curious tone, more childish than cartoonish, with an unexpected deepness at times. People were listening very quietly, not even making a sound between her delicate and fragile songs.

Later in the evening, Jenny O. took the stage and I almost heard everything in her music, from intimate 60s-inspired songs she performed with her only acoustic guitar, to an Elton Jones-esque piano epic piece, ‘The earth has won’, which, with its vocal surge, had the tendency to become something closer to a Queen saga, to a sad hymn-like song à la Jeff Buckley, ‘Opposite Island’, to a bass-groovy-jazzy tune with witty lyrics, ‘Well OK Honey’, to a funky electric number, ‘Good Love’, whose guitar jams seemed to come from a Stevie Wonder’s Best of, … and she only played a few songs.

It’s pretty amazing when someone does not settle for a genre, but rather embraces such a large sonic landscape. Too many bands opt for a sound, and when they perform there is often a certain sameness from one song to another one. No such thing here, her songs were so different they left completely distinct prints in my brain, immediately recognizable, as, I forgot to mention, they were very catchy.

Her voice may well be what people will notice first, breathy, engaging, and so sweet it will find its nest into your ears from the first to the last note; it is probably also what will make the connection between all these original compositions.

Jenny O. has released her first EP via Manimal, that you can listen to here: http://jennyo.bandcamp.com/, but her performance at the Bootleg demonstrated she has much more in store.

February was her residency month at the Bootleg, and there is still one to go, next Monday with J. Tillman, Jonathan Wilson, and she has also announced a string ensemble for all 3 acts,… It should be interesting!

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