It’s not often that an album release show actually happens on the date of the release. When these events coincide, it is a special occasion comparable to waiting to see the bride until the actual wedding ceremony. There’s a unique quality in aligning these events, a patience that pays off with feelings.
Friday night we were treated to this phenomenon at The Cedar with Jillian Rae‘s release of I Can’t Be The One You Want Me To Be. It brought out plenty of cameras and anticipation to see her perform and re-craft the album onstage. With special guest appearances, collaborations, and a few timely covers, Jillian made the most of her release show.
To kick off the evening, Humbird started with an acapella song, titled “Postcards from Paonia,” that silenced the audience. “Kansas City, Missouri” came next as she united the crowd with her lyrics about America.
“Tired story, tired fear, I want it all within the year. This is the same America, we’re all wishing on a dream”
“Empty promise, empty bowls, we got good ideas, can’t patch the holes. But we’re living in America, we’re all counting on this thing”
Humbird continued by looping her guitar and diving into a more experimental folk sound with “Carnivore“. Her voice filled with longing and warmth, she built the song up into a vocal crescendo. Ending with a slow, soft murmur of guitar and tone, it was the perfect peaceful balance to her set.
Commonly performing as a trio, Humbird will be releasing an album on September 7th at The Parkway Theater. Definitely a show to pre-mark on your calendars.
Immediately taking the stage after Humbird was Graveyard Club. Armed with drums, guitars, synths, and the powerful dual vocals of Matthew Schufman and Amanda Zimmerman, they bashed out “Witchcraft“. Matthew’s darker vocals, complemented by Amanda’s higher tone, combined for a great contrast and an engaging opening song.
Diving into their set, Graveyard Club had the audience swaying with their upbeat, synth-laden pop songs. Drummer Cory Jacobs combined live drums with a sample machine throughout the set. The 80’s snare drum sound superbly matched the synths. A few songs in they played “It Hurts” which, as they shared, came with a music video. (One in which the result was quite messy, due to all the goop used.) A heavier driving pop song, it had everyone singing along with the group.
Graveyard Club also celebrated their own release with “William“, a track released that day. Perfectly paced, the song showcased their vocals with Matthew jumping from his lower tone to falsetto, and Amanda layering on top, providing an ear treat. The song breaks down into a driving synth swarm and guitar swirls, then slivers of vocals, all culminating together.
About to embark on a tour to the West Coast, Graveyard Club has their own album release on the horizon for June 28th. Look for their return on July 26th to celebrate the release. Impressed by their diversity and moody danceable songs, it was a fulfilling set of music from them. I highly suspect more coverage and fandom with their upcoming release.
Taking the stage with Jillian was a full arsenal of musicians. A quartet of string players, drummer, bassist, and keyboardist all surrounded her.
Starting off with “Temptation“, Jillian brought a wave of immediate energy into the venue. Dancing around the stage with a huge smile on her face, the feeling was contagious.
As the audience reciprocated, she charged through “Follow Me“, a darker, moody song off of the new album. This keyboard accented song is a clear evolution of Jillian’s musicality.
While known for her violin pedal-board experience, the theme of the new album presents a message of allowing yourself to follow your ambitions. This translated to many of the songs with more layered string parts, along with Jillian coveting a guitar instead of the violin.
Before playing “White Walls” she invited Matt Patrick, engineer/producer extraordinaire, to the stage for a hug and backup vocals. Crafted as a shiny pop song, “White Walls” does a wonderful job of allowing each part and instrument to succeed.
Grabbing an acoustic guitar, Jillian eased into “Wayward One.” This time the strings filled out the song with a lush arrangement. Cradling her vocals, it was a soothing moment and a beautiful transition early in the set.
After dancing through “Medicine” and swooning to “Inebriated”, tracks that flesh out the first half of the album, the audience was invested deeper. Both tracks add depth to Jillian’s voice and stylistic progression. It was during these songs that a box of donuts and ring pops made their way through the crowd.
Moving to the upright piano, Jillian sang “Miserable“. Shaded in blue, the dull piano and strings recreated the album version perfectly. Swaddled around the side of the stage, the audience was silent and absorbed in the shift in gears. It was after the song that Jillian addressed the sweet treats.
“Did you all get a doughnut or ring pop? I planned that so you’d all have a comfort for when you cried.”
Harking back to an older cover, the band then engaged in a funky version of “When Doves Cry.” It was my first time hearing it live. Eating it up and grooving along, we all sang along.
It was this beat that transitioned us into a more jammy, heavier chunk of songs. “Don’t Think” pounded along and had Jillian picking up the violin. Distorting the strings and blending with the feedback guitar, and chaotic piano sections was a powerful culmination to witness. She ended with “Buried Alive”, a fast performance that once again had the audience swaying with energy.
Her encore started with an older audience favorite, “Heartbeat“. A throwback to her bluegrass and more Americana sound, Jillian’s band effortlessly danced along.
Watching a collection of gifted musicians perform as a tight band can be energizing. Hearing a powerful vocalist that is so aware of her voice, is an infectious presence, and so fully engages the audience is a rare experience. This song was a brilliant reminder of that combination and the joy of seeing live music. When aligned, it makes for very memorable events.
Jillian finished the evening with a tribute to her “kicker-backers”. Her cover of “Thank You For Being A Friend”, the Golden Girls theme song, had everyone standing and cheering along. A touching thank you for supporting local music and bringing ambitions to life.
I Can’t Be The One You Want Me To Be is an album filled with reminders and inspiration to break out of labels and who people expect you to be, to bring us outside our niche and discover new passions beyond our normal comfort zones. Jillian provided an evening of music that should give us all a Rae of sunshine moving forward, like that moment you finally see the bride.