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Townes may have it covered

The Sinclair, Cambridge, Mass., November 3, 2022

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Covers may tell the story of Tenille Townes of where she's at. The Canadian singer/songwriter has been pitched out of Nashville - meaning country. When it came to covers, though, the ebullient singer set her sights on Alanis Morissette's "Ironic," Sheryl Crow's "Steve McQueen" and Melissa Etheridge's "I'm the Only One."

None have much to do with how Townes is marketed. (Well, Crow, too, has been lumped in with Americana over time)

But if expecting Townes to offer much sounding country, you would have been disappointed (for the most part). In reality, Townes rocked far more than anything other style.

"White Horse" was exhibit one. On the recorded version, the song percolates and had some subtlety. Not so in concert where the guitars took over. Townes rocked even harder on the muscular "Back to Life," playing electric herself. "Holding Out for the One" also rocked a bit too much.

But Townes, a bit of musical chameleon, did not always stay in that turf. She would start solo with "Where You Are" and go on a few different musical paths including the blues (closing with Etta James' "At Last").

Townes' strength is her songwriting with her two biggest hits – "Somebody's Daughter," which closed the night, and "Jersey on the Wall (I'm Just Asking)" – underscoring why. The songs – one about a lost teen and the latter about failing to understand why a young person died in a car crash – are emotional, relatable and well conceived. And rocked again live.

"When I Meet My Maker," delivered solo acoustic later in the set, rendered the crowd pin drop quiet. Townes made you want to listen to songs about such a big issue. Ditto for "The Way You Look Tonight," where her powerful voice dominated.

Townes only drew about 100 people (a headscratcher considering that she has been on the receiving end of positive press for a few years – this concert was postponed at least twice due to COVID), but no matter to Townes. She was more than appreciative, upbeat and a good story teller.

As shown tonight, Townes has a few different musical sides, which is why she is launching the Side A + B tour next year, rocking as well as acoustic.

Of course, that's Townes' prerogative. But she showcased herself to be a stronger, more nuanced performer when acoustic, letting her emotions stand out even more. But who knows? Maybe soon enough, she'll have the rock side covered too.

Georgia native Alex Hall opened with a somewhat soulful delivery, playing solo acoustic. An excellent fit to Townes, Hall, slated to release his debut next year, showed himself to also be both a very good songwriter and interpreter, closing with Elvis' "Suspicious Minds." That song never sounded so sad.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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