I told myself I would not rave about Paula Cole’s return, but I’d be dishonest not to say how IMPRESSED I was with my first viewing. I have collected and loved her underrated recordings, and I missed the Lilith Fair shows that built her fan base, so I didn’t want to miss this tour’s arrival after several years of self-imposed hiatus from her career. It was worth the wait.
Well, intentional intensity in the intimacy of Austin’s “One World Theatre” can’t fail to give one some goosebump moments ! The directness of Paula’s asides, and her note-perfect vocals kept this listener rapt – from sexy whispers through full-throated wails, all within the same phrase – time and time again. I don’t know many women who could take a Joni Mitchell tribute like “Case of You” and genuinely make it their own, either…
Strong material really benefits from versatile side-players, and neither ‘Ben’ disappointed. Plugged-in acoustic guitarist Ben Butler (who she “pilfered” from Suzanne Vega) offered some awfully subtle slide-work that interplayed closely with the slammin’ dynamics Cole relied on, mostly in classics from THIS FIRE.
I was a little surprised she didn’t share more songs from “COURAGE,” her most recent (and most highly personal?) CD release, but I won’t quibble details.
The final fun encore was a surprisingly funky cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” and I know now for a fact… what Paula Cole brings when she comes to town.