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Live from New Orleans

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 May
Live from New Orleans
Sounds like … the jazz-inspired affectations of Fiona Apple and Norah Jones, with some of the piano balladry of Sarah McLachlan and Nichole Nordeman. At a glance … both smoky and sleepy, Live from New Orleans can go from bohemian to uninteresting in no time.Track Listing I Wanna Be Moved Free Call Me Beautiful (Intro) Call Me Beautiful I Love the Way New Song With Me True Story Let Love Rule If You Want Me To Live Once

Singer/songwriter Ginny Owens is no stranger in the arena of live recording, having appeared on the A Night in Rocketown compilation and tour, as well as on the nearly live-to-tape experience ofbluEPrint, a modest, stripped-down project from late 2003.

Those dabblings undoubtedly prepared her for Live from New Orleans, a transitional work that finds the eloquent chanteuse singing for an intimate audience a sampling of her growing catalogue. Owens is a lover of R&B, so it's no surprise to hear her routine piano-based arrangements taking on some of the jazzier proclivities of Fiona Apple, and, to a lesser extent, Norah Jones. This is particularly evident in opener "I Wanna Be Moved," where the alternative ambiance is replaced by stronger emphasis on the upright bass and the coolly handled drums. Her sparse yet talented backing band gives an irresistible groove to "I Love the Way," and the gritless cover of Lenny Kravitz's "Let Love Rule" is respectful and capable.

However, the interest level recedes when the artist retreats to her customary comfort zone—like Sarah McLachlan, somewhere between compelling brokenness and simplistic sameness. It's a stark contrast from the urbanity that kicks off the record. "Call Me Beautiful" is guilty of this, as is her biggest song thus far, the lovely "If You Want Me To," in which Owens intentionally alters and syncopates the melody, unaware that doing so loses her audience.

Overall, it's not the way it's performed, but rather the indistinctiveness of it all that trumps the dynamism and effectiveness of Live from New Orleans, a disc that is more a placeholder for the in-between time before Owens' upcoming fall release.