Jonatha Brooke – Live
Having wowed the open mic scene as half of Jennifer and Jonatha and having
shared in the tales of love and loss that made up The Story, Jonatha
Brooke has gone on her own in a major way, not just recording under her
own name but, on her latest and first live album, on her own label.
Dreading forecasts of consolidation and consternation, Brooke suavely made
her own way by creating Bad Dog as a completely independent means of
sharing her elegant stories with her growing legions of fans.
As Paul Harvey would say “Now here’s the rest of the story….”
Taken from a series of recent concerts, Live captures “the intensity and
raw sound of a live show” with very little tailoring. Despite a veritable
hurricane nearly canceling a show in Boston, aside from a few odd comments
(e.g., “I gotta try to get this strap on”) and inter-mezzo showers of
applause, the recording is amazingly clean, allowing the depth and nuance
of Brooke’s vocals and the talents of her backing band to shine as much as
on any studio album. And what a set of backers she has! From the steady
percussion of Tom Hambridge to the Raitt-y rattlesnake fretwork of Duke
Levine and Gary Leonard’s “strange, brilliant, ambient guitar rainbow,”
Brooke takes from the best to make one of the best live albums around; a
satisfying combination of concert energy and studio clarity and of
traditional favorites and new explorations.
Of special note are the yearning, diving and soaring plea of “Is This
All?,” the sassy blues of “Where Were You?” and the legendary “Always” – a
contemporary combination of Arhturian sense and Virginia Woolfe
sensibility. The recording is impressively clear and glitch-free and the
performances are likewise. In a phrase, Live is a keeper!
Paul would be proud!
- Matthew S. Robinson
© 1999 M. S. Robinson, ARR