Jennifer Kimball


cd release party Lizard Lounge (2006)

Jennifer Kimball
CD Release party at the Lizard Lounge
Cambridge Common 1667 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA
January 25, 2006

By 8:30 the Liz was standing room only, conversations over the house music
were loud, and laughter was abundant. A buzz of anticipation, as warm as
the red filtered lights that illuminate the cave-like Lizard Lounge,
animated the crowd. The bon vivants came from near and far to hear
Cambridge based Jennifer Kimball sing her heart out in the second night of
a two-night CD release party hosted in the downstairs of the popular Mass.
Ave pub Cambridge Common.

The nearly two-hour set that ensued was almost too much of a good thing
but Kimball's fans gobbled it up as if it were manna from heaven.
Kimball's second CD, "O Hear Us", has just been released and she and the
musicians who've been her band in residence during her regular Wednesday
night gig at the Liz responded with a shoot-the-light's-out set that
unleashed the new songs.

A singer-songwriter, Kimball sings her own songs with conviction and
unique voice phrasings that are at home in minor keys, a signature style.
As a writer, she finds kernels of truth in her lyrics, keenly observed
small details that illuminate entire relationships or states of emotion.
And then sweetly sings them into life with a veteran performer's sense of
melancholy, longing, loss, camp, or jaunty humor. The new CD "O Hear Us"
has it all.

Three songs into the set and it was clear that Kimball and company were in
the zone. Kimball's "band in residence" knew how to take solos that bored
deep into and then eased out of the emotional core of her songs. Kevin
Barry on laptop pedal steel guitar and Duke Levine on guitar and laptop
synthesizer, reeled off several riffs so poignant that the bartenders
didn't dare open a bottle let alone shake a margarita during their solos.
Richard Gates on bass and Billy Beard on percussion built foundations for
each song that could hold the weight of Yankee Stadium. Once the critical
mass was established, we were all in collusion to make the moments last as
long as we could.

Kimball can mix two parts melancholy and one part loss and end up with a
ballad as elemental as water. I've been humming the words to "Don't Take
Your Love Away From Me" all week. "Wrap your troubles in dreams" was a
delightfully rendered Bing Crosby tune featuring over the top solo work by
Barry and Levine, suggestive scat singing by Kimball, drums and bass fills
from the rhythm section. The sheer fun they had as they skipped through
this chestnut was worth the price of admission. One of the only other
covers of the night, a lustily gritty "You really got a hold on me" made
you want to pull your love interest onto a dance floor, maybe elsewhere,
and groove to this deliciously rendered song. In the end, it's Kimball's
singing and writing that sticks with you. She called upon "my wasp past"
to compose "Eternal Father", part Episcopal hymn, part navy hymn. Haunting
ballads like "East of Indiana" and "Last Ride Home" are ethereal meldings
of vocal and narrative skill in which she scales notes that only an
accomplished voice can reach.

Boston is blessed with talented singers and songwriters. Jennifer Kimball
just happens to be one of the best of them.

updated: 2 years ago