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Messina shows you can go home again

House of Blues, Boston, June 2, 2024

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Jo Dee Messina showed you can go home yet again. Messina was back in Massachusetts where she got her start with a set looking back.

Messina has not released an album in 10 years, nor made the singles chart since 2008. Fortunately, she has enough of a catalogue with at least some sense of looking ahead to maintain her career. Of course, it helped that Cole Swindell had a big hit with his paean to Messina in the 2022 hit "She Had Me at Heads Carolina."

Messina had enough confidence in her music, not to put "Heads Carolina" at the end of the show, an obvious choice. Instead, she played in right in the middle drawing a big response from the crowd.

There was no clearer sign of being so happy to be on friendly turf as when Messina soaked in the rousing applause on "I'm Alright" eventually resulting in her crying.

Messina's voice has maintained its luster over the years. "Bring on the Rain" with her band standing beside, underscored that and proved to be a highlight of the evening.

Messina did not need to only rely on her hits. She has had a religious bent, indicated by her guitar strap, which mentions a verse in Corinthians. More importantly, that sentiment is in her music as well. She got personal in Anne Wilson's "My Jesus," performed at the piano.

The highlight, though, was "Life After You," the very heartfelt song also performed at the piano, giving the night a different feel from the rest of the 90-minute set.

Recorded only last month by Messina, she put an unfortunately ironic spin to the song. Messina explained that the song has to do with death. At the very same time she wrote the song, a "dear friend" of Messina lost her son-in-law, a father of three, in a freak highway accident. Messina infused the song with the necessary sentiment.

Messina always has been on the pop side of country, and that was apparent in spades from her choice of covers. Fans were not going to hear anything resembling traditional country. Instead, Messina served up a medley of '80s music including Bon Jovi's "Living On a Prayer," Toto's "Hold the Line," The Outfield's "Josie's On a Vacation," Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and Joan Jett's anthemic "I Love Rock and Roll." Like many of these mash-ups, she played a tiny snippet of each song getting the fans into it, while moving onto the next singalong.

Elsewhere, she tossed in a good cover of Kansas' "Carry On Wayward Son" and close out the night with Journey's career chestnut song, "Don't Stop Believin'" after a pep talk to surround oneself with positive people.

That pretty much summed up where Messina was coming from musically.

Yet, also indicative of that was "I'm Alright" and its line "It's a beautiful day, not a cloud in sight/so I guess I'm doing alright."

With her faith apparent and sense of self intact, Messina went home in style and was definitely doing alright and more.

Jessica Lynn, a New York City singer, opened with an hour-long, upbeat set that showcased her ability to capably entertain and sing. Think of Shania Twain as an influence, which made sense given that Lynn sang "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" Lynn wasn't heavy on country, although Lynn had a few songs that successfully navigated the genre.

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