om/jessicatate">Jessica Tate has assembled an eclectic, 11-song collection of jazz standards and Americana mainstays that serve a very worthy mix of well-met expectations and impressive song ideas.
Collectively, the songs on "Streetlamp Symphonies" represent opposite ideas that strike a balance with almost no struggle. Tate is anything but typical singer/songwriter. First, she hugs a harp rather than a guitar, and her voice doesn't waver with any of the wear of her often-folksy inspiration.
Her mournful wail drapes lyrics like a thick tapestry: heavy, warm and damp with easy comfort. Her versions of Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child" and Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight" are effortless. And the singer plays a perfect Peggy Lee in "Why Don't You Do Right," but Tate's best when she's less obvious.
Taking on Tom Waits, her "Blue Valentines" is haunting and beautiful, marked by her sorrowful croon and almost flamenco-inspired harp staccatos. Lithe and lively, Tate's "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home" is a playful and unexpected nod to Johnny Mercer, and she does Bob Dylan with flair on "Things Have Changed."
Despite a few distracting breath pops, "Streetlamp Symphonies"' recorded with Dave Copenhaver at Studio 7 in Oklahoma City' is well-produced and arranged with minimal instrumentation and overdubs, which puts Tate's harp and voice where they should be: in the spotlight of every verse and chorus.
Tate will debut "Streetlamp Symphonies" at a free CD-release show, 8 p.m. Friday at the Prohibition Room, 1112 N.W. 23rd.