Concert Review: Jennifer K. Austin – Anthology Lounge December 1, 2020

We start the new month as we ended the previous one…with live music from a bevy of Kiwi artists headlined by Jennifer K. Austin who is celebrating the release of her new album, Journey.

And it was quite a journey at The Anthology with two other up-and-comers filling out the bill, one who goes by Cloudy, the other is Hanna Ashcroft who we introduced to 13th Floor folks recently with a Video Session.

First up on this Tuesday night was Cloudy, armed with her trusty ukulele she managed to grab the attention of fans filing in with strong original tunes such as Addicted To You and Dear Dunkin…any song about donuts has got my ear!

Her cover of The Cranberries’ Zombie…by this time with acoustic guitar rather than uke…proved that this young lady has a voice to be reckoned with.

Up next… Hanna Ashcroft and her trusty guitarist Aaron. Hanna’s EP, Start Again has just been released and she spent her allotted 30 minutes playing tunes from it…Down, Everywhere, I Won’t Be…along with a couple of new songs and some well-chosen covers…Leon Bridges’ River and Ray Charles’ Lonely Avenue.

Hanna has a strong voice and after hearing her in this setting it became clear that she needs to bust out, get a band together and really flesh out the fine songs of hers.

Born and raised in the US…possibly Kentucky?…Jennifer K. Austin now calls Auckland home and we are all the richer for it. Her new album, Journey, is due out tomorrow (Dec 4) and this is an ideal way to get to know the artist and her songs.

Appropriately, the set began with Scared Of Letting Go, the opening song on Journey. This was no stripped down acoustic affair…Jennifer came accompanied by three musicians…an electric guitarist, a bass player and keyboard man. So no drummer, but electronic beats were added when needed.

After a somewhat tentative beginning Jennifer opened up and showed us what she was made of on 7 Years Ago. “I thought I killed you in my dream” she sings to her ex as the music builds from a dreamy keyboard interlude to a stinging guitar solo. Jennifer herself reaches back and delivers a dramatic vocal performance that left audience members gasping.

These are deeply personal songs dealing with adult issues…depression, relationships, parenthood…and Jennifer tackles them head-on.

“I’m sick to death of feeling sorry for myself” she wails over a Sabbath-like guitar riff during I Am Here.

The mood lightens during Old Gin, with a plucky audience member offering up a whisky which is passed on to Ed the guitarist who is celebrating a birthday.

By the time the evening is over it becomes clear that the tsunami of musical talent that has swept over New Zealand shows no sign of abating.

Marty Duda

Photos of Jennifer courtesy Ginelle Cocks:

Marty Duda
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