Full A-Team Review: Paula Cole ( One World Theatre)

Review by Ken McKenzie-Grant

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.

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About nowplayingaustin

The Austin Creative Alliance is a nonprofit performing arts service organization working to cultivate an environment where the performing arts can grow and flourish. We serve over 130 arts organizations with marketing, ticketing, audience development services; AEA paymaster, information & referral services — plus access to affordable health, liability, and event insurance. We also provide online professional development seminars, fiscal sponsorship services for emerging arts groups, host annual unified general auditions, annual theatre industry awards, and consistently advocate for the many benefits the arts bring to our quality of life.

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