Jill Sobule's is a life told in stories--some her own, some borrowed from others, some true, some manufactured and built upon exaggeration, some quite fantastic, and some quite real. They are simple stories--short, to the point, bouncy even when sad, sung in the pretty voice of a woman trying to remain a girl--and they are sweet even when Sobule tells off an ex-boyfriend, laments the "sad fate" of being the girl in the affair, or sings of a good-girl-gone-bad. That's because there is no good or bad in the singer-songwriter's world, no right or wrong, no choices not worth pursuing or chances not worth taking. So she hates her boyfriend but can't bring herself to bad-mouth him because it's just as well he's gone; and she turns her friend Margaret's fall from Catholic school to porn films into a near-fable with a happy, forgiving ending ("Doo, doo, doo, what a lucky girl").
Sobule, singing behind a sound that's part pop and part Latin and part folk, is the perfect storyteller--wide-eyed and honest, whimsical, a realist and a romantic. She's the kind of woman who's pleasantly surprised when she finds out her conservative boss secretly breaks out the leather and bad boys, and the dreamer who fantasizes about being a spy for the Resistance. Sobule claims her words are autobiographical, taken from situations she experienced or people she knew (she goes so far as to say the names are unchanged, poor Margaret), but she's hardly confessional. Even the "hit" single and video "I Kissed a Girl" (which the Edge recently pulled from rotation after a month because it tested poorly with its listening audience) is sung as a did-she-or-didn't-she? joke, less revealing and more teasing, which is what ultimately makes it so real.
Jill Sobule performs June 8 at Poor David's Pub.