Jackie Bristow – Anthology Lounge Auckland, 28 April 2022: Concert Review

Jackie Bristow begins the show tonight with Whistle Blowin’ and immediately her soulful voice sends evocative shivers around the Anthology Lounge.

Jackie is promoting her brand-new album Outsider which has received huge interest in the Indie music press in America. This tour started in Nelson and is goin’ up the country before finishing at her current home in Queenstown.

The live music scene is slowly sparking back to life after the madness of the last ten months. People are still tentative and there is trepidation. So, Jackie is riding like Paul Revere through the land, solo with acoustic guitar. Heard the news? There’s good rockin’ tonight!

The album has a great band behind it but her sound is full and expansive with voice alone. Maybe the best sound I’ve heard so far at the Lounge courtesy of Rikki Morris on the sound desk.

California is the first one played off the album. A sweet December winter night and it’s full of the echoes of Laurel Canyon. She has a Kiwi accent to talk, and a singing voice which is pure Heartland Americana. More that connects the two countries than separates them.

There is a lot of travel and experience in that voice that comes from the depths of Roots American Country music.

Mal-McCallumMal McCallum

Mal McCallum opens the evening tonight and we are starting in that Canyon and the classic sound of the singer-songwriters of the Seventies.

McCallum seems to be another best-kept secret of the Kiwi music industry. Around in the days of Ready to Roll. A session musician with the likes of Sharon O’Neill and Mark Williams in Sydney. Some of the Little River Band played on his albums.

He has the easy Soft Rock to Folky tenor of a James Taylor or the early Eagles, but his original songs remind me of some of the classic Texas singer-songwriters.

Desperadoes, with their false bravados has a nice melody line and subtle bite of a Buddy Holly tune.

Always a Rebel could be a Townes Van Zandt or Flatlanders story song, written about a favourite cousin. The highlight of his brief set, and there is a nice yodel in there too.

Quite low-key and unassuming, and a perfect foil to the headliner as he finishes with a cover of Carole King’s You’ve Got a Friend.

Jackie BristowJackie Bristow

Whilst she has spent a lot of time living in Los Angeles, Austin and Nashville, the inner core of her voice and songwriting seems to have a heart in the Country Soul of Memphis. From the studios of Stax, Muscle Shoals, Fame and Sam Phillips.

Rollin’ Stone has a bit of the Rockabilly spirit and bravado of a Wanda Jackson in the Fifties.

Blue Moon Rising was a great little single released two years ago which is stripped back to its elemental Blues rhythms tonight.

One which may be titled Take It to the Train is from her early days as the Bristow Sisters. The railway line rhythm is straight out the Sun Studio at 706 Union Ave. We are told they were performing this opening for the Topp Twins.

Album title track Outsider is given some defiant passion. I found my peace she sings and it feels like it.

Rockin’ Chair has a Bluegrass banjo on the album, and here reveals older roots of the Original Carter Family sound. Which are the roots of Bluegrass, as it happens.

Fallen Youth is Jackie creating New Zealand Roots Country music. Linked to home town Gore and a poem from an ANZAC soldier. A soft requiem wrapping a tragedy, which is what is expressed in tunes which arose from the American Civil War. Like Rally ‘Round the Flag, let’s say.

The atmosphere created by the singer fills the room. Less is more, and space reveals sounds you can only hear live.

There seems to be a walking bass heard on Shakin’ my Bones. Nice percussive guitar on Freedom.

A new song was given an airing. Walked into a Goldmine. Walking around with a rocket in my pocket/ In my Soul. Plaintive and coming from older times, and it sounded fully formed.

Aotearoa closed the show and it’s a great anthem to returning home. Feels so good to see the Hokonui hills. Caitlin Smith and Rikki Morris adding some harmony polish.

There was a high, lonesome sound and there was a great warm spirit which came from the stage tonight.

Rev Orange Peel     

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