Judith Owen – Live 2007

Judith Owen Live
@ Club Passim, Cambridge, MA – Aug. 22, 2007
by Matthew Robinson

Despite the lack of alcohol in the legendary acoustic listening room, Welsh singer/songwriter Judith Owen brought the feel of a British pub to Club Passim to celebrate the release of her crticially-acclaimed “Happy This Way” (Courgette). Filled with hard-fought joy and intimate recollections, Owens set ranged broadly. Opening with the whisperingly stirring Welsh anthem “Conway Bay,” Owens talked her way through the Streisand-meets-Mitchell echoes of “Carrie” and Richard Thompson’s Kinks-ian bluesy bounce “Painting By Numbers,” the hushed memorial ballad “Nicholas Drake,” and a deconstructed encore of “Smoke on the Water” that was a deep shade of purple indeed.

Though she hesitated on a few first verses, Owen’s stories (both sung and spoken) were personal and affecting. And whenever heavy emotions threatened (as they often did in Owen’s deeply-personal repertoire), Owen brightened the room up with her broad, confident smile and powder blue humor. With her operatic father looking on from the back row, Owen offered well-understood tastes of jazz (“Cool Life”), Prokofiev-ian classical “Dark Clouds,” and the paternal tribute “My Father’s Voice,” a loving and appreciative reminiscence that explained where Owen got her original inspiration and support.

By the time her two-hour set closed with a punchy piano-ization of “Eye of the Tiger” (an especially appropriate tune for the driven performer), the audience knew not only Owen’s music but also her heart, both of which are authentic, lyrical, and beautiful.

©2007 Matthew S. Robinson, arr.