Live review: Reeve Coobs

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Reeve Coobs

The Evening Muse

July 22, 2011

The Deal: Singer/songwriter and vocal powerhouse Reeve Coobs delights a packed house at The Evening Muse.

The Good: Reeve combines the vocal qualities of pop singers like Colbie Caillat and Celine Dion and infuses that sweet-but-soulful energy into folk rock songs that amalgamate the styles of artists like John Mayer and Edwin McCain. The resulting tunes display a songwriting prowess and impeccable vocal control unmatched by any unsigned singer/songwriter I’ve ever seen.

Unbridled by a succinct subgenre definition, Reeve runs the gamut of folk from the pop end to the rock end, picking up some country/Americana sounds on the way. While Reeve’s flawless, live vocals rival the precision and quality of a great studio recording, her talents extend even beyond that to skilled guitar-work and piano-playing. For someone as multi-talented as she, her self-effacing manner of addressing her fans makes her even more charming as a performer—she seems to be so focused on the music, she hesitates to mention her items for sale at the back of the venue. She even apologizes for her lack of happy songs: “Moving from ‘angry’ to ‘sad;’ not too many ‘happy,’ sorry.” Even if most songs are expressing negative emotions and situations in the most beautiful way possible, it’s not all doom-and-gloom; for instance, she touts her catchiest song “Night Owl” as the happiest song she’s ever written, calling it “a love song to staying up late.”

The Bad: Having the chairs out at The Evening Muse kind of cut down the available kinetic energy in the room, I thought. Not to mention it was a claustrophobia-inducing level of crowded in there by the end of Reeve’s set. It wasn’t that she wasn’t putting the energy out there; it was just that, as she said, “You guys are really quiet.” The crowd loosened up a little bit after the first few songs, thankfully.

The Verdict: I am really hard on female singers in my critiques because I know the extent of wonderful things that a woman’s voice can do, and most of the front-women of Charlotte don’t explore that potential — Reeve Coobs exceptionally defies that majority. I’m not even a huge fan of folk rock, as a genre, but the dark caramel tones of Reeve’s voice paired with rock solid songwriting really impresses me. While these beautiful songs could stand alone with just her voice and an acoustic guitar — I’ve seen it work at FemmeFest — the musicians in her band weave a tight net of support, filling out the songs — especially the “angry” ones — for an intense sonic experience.

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