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Thursday, 05 June 2008 19:00

Cabaret at Savor

June 5, 2008
Reviewed by Chris Gibson

St. Louisan Erin Bode is a star on the rise nationally, and a chance to see her perform in an intimate setting like the Cabaret at Savor's Flim-Flam room (June 5th, 2008), is a special treat. Backed by a tight and talented four piece band, Bode celebrated the release of her latest CD, The Little Garden, with a set list that leaned heavily on material from her new album. Thankfully, those songs, penned mostly by pianist/guitarist Adam Maness and the singer herself, are jazz-tinged pop gems that deliver solid hooks and thoughtful lyrics in equal measure.

Bode began with "Out of Time", a composition by Maness that's capped by a lengthy but captivating piano solo which he seamlessly segues into a tale of heartbreak titled, "Two". Bode's sweet and crystalline clear voice effortlessly floated and soared over the top of these challenging, yet tuneful arrangements and progressions.

Next up was "It's All Your Fault", inspired by a disagreement between the two songwriters, and featuring a hypnotic bass groove laid down on upright by Bode's husband, Sid Rodway. Paul Simon's "Born at the Right Time", from his Rhythm of the Saints album (the South American companion piece to Simon's South Africa-inspired, Graceland) followed, with Bode providing an emotional and compelling reading.

"Sydney Came Down" showcased creative call and response interplay between the singer and expert percussionist, Derek Phillips. "Cold Water", inspired by a group bonding trip to Lake Superior, continued the emphasis on tracks from The Little Garden, with each new song revealing a distinct growth in Bode's sound.

A trip back to her first CD produced Bob Dylan's "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You". Maness strapped on a Guild acoustic guitar for the next couple of numbers, with the catchy "Chasing After You" leading into the finger-picking whimsy of "A Thousand Mice", which featured a lyric inspired by a true-life encounter with rodent infestation. Sleigh bells punctuated the chorus of "The Sweater Song", giving it a warm holiday-friendly feel.

For me, the highlight of the evening occurred when Bode pulled out a simmering arrangement of the Phil Collins hit, "That's All" from Genesis' self-titled album. Apparently, Bode and the band were playing to an indifferent crowd one night and decided to mess around with the FM staple. Though currently unrecorded, this version would be a likely candidate for airplay on classic rock and adult contemporary radio. Bode closed with the jaunty ear candy of "New England Friends", a tune reminiscent of Ben Folds and his quirky, piano-driven pop.

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