Not enough girl power
Reviewed November 2009
By Po' Girl
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing the band's Web site.
After five studio albums, Canadian roots and jazz folkies Po' Girl have released a live set. And while listening to their studio sets would lead one to believe that their live shows must be phenomenal, a muddy mix and too little of lead singers Awna Teixeira and Allison Russell leaves the album a bit of a dissapointment particularly on the heels of the wondrous "Deer in the Night," issued earlier this year.
Still, the positives are many. First, there is the magic of the vocal harmonies between Russell and Teixeira. Not since early '70s folk-jazz combo Joy of Cooking (built around the vocals of Toni Brown and Terry Garthwaite) has there been a jazz-oriented female vocal duo with the talent and charm of Po' Girl. With deep, rich voices, and a resonant vibrato, their two voices meld into a single, spine-tingling sound.
Russell's facility with clarinet reminds what an underutilized instrument that is expressive, sad, rich in tone; there's a reason Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw were famed soloists only two generations ago.
The band's relaxed approach to music, and traditional instrumentation and sensibility gives the performance here an old-timey feel. Never hurried, Po' Girl allows each song to unfold organically.
With no track-by-track credits, it's unclear who the male singer is on several tracks toward the end, but it's a distraction. He's okay as a singer, but one buys a Po' Girl album for Teixeira and Russell. Let them sing.
Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).