But there was nothing broken about her overall performance; if anything, Thursday's concert was more intense and rocked a little more than her
Friday's concert at The Livery, presumably, could only be better with both a rehearsal and a performance behind McCue and her band for these two shows.
As she has done before in
But Hauser was at Ignition, and McCue asked him to join the band for several songs to sing harmony and play tambourine and shaker. As was the case in
Butler, whose near-constant smile showed he was having a blast, fit right in with McCue and Jimenez, and his choice of sticks, brushes and mallets and the touch he brought to how he used each of them provided true support to each song.
Jimenez's bass playing gave McCue a solid groove of a foundation against which she could solo on the more rock-oriented songs, while his use of an upright bass on three new songs fit their acoustic jazz settings.
With the opening procession of "I Want You Back," "Driving Down Alvarado" and "Hellfire Raiser," McCue gave the audience an early indication of her gifts as a lead guitarist, both with how powerful she can be but also with how tasteful and thematic she always is. She rarely lets loose with a flurry of notes -- although she can, as she's demonstrated before with her covers of
"Hellfire Raiser" featured a great buildup of tension in her guitar solo, especially at the end of the song, while the night's fourth song, the slow, hesitating blues "Habit," featured a solo that moved from the sadness of bent and vibrato notes to angry double-stops, glissandi and aggressive picking.
Her use of either a flanger or a phaser on her guitar added sonic depth to "Stupid," while her only occasional playing of a full chord -- for the most part, she arpeggiated the notes on the three bass strings of the guitar -- made "Motorcycle Dreams" sound ominous.
McCue's slide playing on "Hangman" gave the song a dirty and ugly tone, like the song's subject matter -- a lynching by the Ku Klux Klan.
The highlight of the night, however, came from four new songs that will appear on "Blue Sky Thinkin'," the album she has slated for a September release.
Based on Confucius' advice for how to prepare for revenge, "Dig Two Graves" sets its seemingly humorous but actually serious and cautionary lyrics against a fantastic swinging jazz rhythm, while the mid-tempo jazz-blues of "Things You Left Out in the Rain" displays
By contrast, the finger-picked country-blues song "Spring Cleaning in the Wintertime" has a loping, optimistic rhythm and style reminiscent of Mississippi John Hurt's music (as does the older "Milkman's Daughter"), while "Little White Cat" is a buoyant, jazzy celebration of life that features a joyous guitar solo that reflects the tone of the song and its lyrics.
In some ways, these songs represent a dramatic departure for McCue with their jazz-based foundations, but in other ways, they simply utilize skills fans are familiar with, such as her versatility as a finger-picker.
Either way, the four songs McCue played Thursday at Ignition, make "Blue Sky Thinkin'" an album worth anticipating before its release. If these are any indication, it should be one of 2014's best albums.
McCue, Jimenez and Butler perform at
If at all possible, don't miss them.
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