Over The Weekend: Sarah Jaffe CD Release Show at Sons of Hermann Hall

Sarah Jaffe, Seryn
May 14, 2010
Sons of Hermann Hall

Better than: sitting around in a circle and singing "Kumbaya."

So much for needing to work on her live show: On Friday night at Sons of Hermann Hall, before a reverent and crowded, but hardly packed, house, Sarah Jaffe offered up a set worthy of each and every ounce of praise she's received in recent weeks.

She appeared confident and comfortable playing before her hometown crowd. And, armed with a catalog featuring both her new Suburban Nature full-length and her 2008 EP Even Born Again, Jaffe had plenty of ammo with which to attack her adoring audience.

It was like shooting fish in a barrel, to steal the old cliche. Fish that knew every single word to every single song.

And, let's face it, Jaffe had every reason to be confident. Unlike her recent show at Fair Park in support of Norah Jones, this performance saw Jaffe backed with a full band. And, quite the murderer's row of a band it was: Robert Gomez on guitar, Becki Howard (The Crash That Took Me) on violin, Jeff Ryan (Pleasant Grove) on drums, Buffi Jacobs (The Polyphonic Spree) on cello and Scott Danbom (Centro-matic) on keys.

But even amongst all that local star power, Jaffe still shined. Though she thanked the crowd for their continued support in the run up to her new release, Jaffe, it seemed, was playing this show as if she had something to prove. And, in doing so, the audience was treated to some real delights, including two recently re-worked versions of longtime fan favorites.

Both Suburban Nature's "Vulnerable" and Even Born Again's "Backwards/Forwards" saw their dainty takes scrapped at this show in favor of plodding, more muscular takes that emphasized Gomez' meaty guitar playing. And they worked to great ends: "Vulnerable," in particular, came off more in this form like an angry revenge song--and, really, the best one we've heard in some time, if we're being honest.

And, no surprise here, once Jaffe's set came to its end, the audience still craved more. Jaffe and her band, in turn, remained on stage, offering up "Perfect Plan" as a fitting, rousing encore.

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Opening the night, Seryn similar stunned the crowds with its harmonies and singalongs--even getting a few of the venue's seated patrons to rise from their seats and start dancing. Look for that band's debut release to come out in September.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
In my almost 2.5 years in Dallas, I've probably covered Jaffe as much as any other musician in town. But, as she proved on Friday night, she's all too deserving of the clippings.

Random Note: No vinyl release for Suburban Nature yet. But I spoke with some of the folks from Kirtland Records in attendance, and they assured me that it's coming soon enough.

By The Way: Between this show, Doug Burr's release in Oak Cliff and The Beaten Sea's release down the road at the Double Wide, the Dallas folk scene was spread pretty thin on Friday night--to the detriment of pretty much all of the shows, except for The Beaten Sea's, as that band's performance didn't start until well after midnight. Sure would've been nice if these acts had all organized better and played together. You telling me a triple-bill of Jaffe, Burr and The Beaten Sea wouldn't have been a major draw at, say, the Granada on Friday?

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