Wonky Tonk (7pm show)

Thu, Sep 15, 2016 @ 7:00 pm to 9:00pm

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Thursday, September 15 / 7pm / $Free
Wonky Tonk (Folk rock/Crazy country)

Kentucky based singer-songwriter Jasmine “Wonky Tonk” Poole, is an artist who is never afraid to put it all out there and leave a piece of herself behind. As a young girl, she was told that “Cowgirls get up in the morning, decide what to do and do it.” With a sound that touches on folk, Americana, country, and bluegrass, all anchored by a touch of honky tonk and propelled by her punk attitude, Poole clearly took that advice to heart and applied it to her music. Described as falling somewhere between First Aid Kit, Modest Mouse and Tune Yards, and with influences such as Loretta Lynn, Poole paves her own creative path on her LP release, Stuff We Leave Behind, available now.

Like the opening lines of a great novel, good music will grab your attention within a few notes. It takes about that long before Poole lures you in with “Turn the Radio On,” a quirky if not somewhat reserved acapella track. Poole pulls it off with pleasant enough harmonies and a pureness to the vocals that will be one of her trademark sounds on this release. Shaking things up early, Poole changes gears on the uptempo “Cleveland.” Much like Poole herself who puts out music you wouldn’t necessarily expect from looking at her, “Cleveland” has a light feel to it at face value, but underneath its outer shell, it is a lyrical direct hit square between the eyes of corporate America. Poole brings it down just a notch on the mid-tempo “Billings, MT” where the twang-tinged guitar riffs and a vocal delivery laced with the sound of youthful indifference are the stars.

Continuing along the musical map laid out by Poole’s previous travels comes ”Denmark.” This is a head bopping, finger snapper about finding the right one as she sings “I’m tired of being a gambling lover…Sweet on you/Let’s fly and not waste time.” “Denmark’s” somewhat zen-like feel disappears on “Washington Ave,” a mid-tempo track with a distinct country feel. Like many country songs, this one is a story of lost love defined by lyrics such as “…Drinking, drinking, drinking/Gonna probably end up wasted/On your kitchen floor/Call the cops/Cause that’s love as you make it/Sometimes you give your heart to someone and they break it.” Ultimately, it is a song about persevering, growing from relationships and experimenting until, Poole sings, you “get it right.” The mid-point of the release brings “Tennessee.” A slower paced ballad with emotional guitar playing, there is a sense of regret but determination in her vocals as she sings “When I finish here/No I’m never ever never going home…Tennessee didn’t you hear? Money’s not real/And neither is fear.”

The second half of Stuff We Leave Behind kicks off in interesting fashion by breaking from the previous sound to offer more of an alternative indie rock track with “Montague Rd.” Musically, there is the addition of a piano that compliments the continuously impressive guitar and drums before Poole returns to the twang on “Parkland Ave.” What starts out sounding almost like exaggerated country bordering on satire actually plays out as a cute track about the ups and downs of first love and what you learn during the experience. The guitar playing is emotive and works well in emphasizing the feelings behind lyrics such as “When fire meets fire/Flames only grow higher” before moving onto “Saffin Avenue” A brief guitar intro bursts into a song that sounds like a rocking good time and is sure to be an audience hit live.

Stuff We Leave Behind begins to wrap things up with my personal favorite, “One For The Juke.” While on its surface this track sounds like it is filled with little more than regret with lyrics such as “I gave up the only one that I called mine/And now I’m lonesome all the time,” there seems to be a sort of larger self-awareness on this song. It is the musical culmination of everything Poole learned over the years about herself and the relationships that come and go in life. It creates a satisfying feeling of having traveled this journey with her as she grew from innocence to experienced. The final track, “Keri On,” brings Stuff We Leave Behind to a mellow end with acoustic guitar, Poole’s voice and little else. Its lyrics, including “Staying in love is much harder than falling apart,” create a feeling of sadness while simultaneously relaying the deeper understanding of human emotion that comes with individual growth and the loss of bright eyed idealism. Where “Turn the Radio On” invited us to the start of Poole’s musical journey in all its unaffected simplicity, “Keri On” serves as the perfect ending to bid us all farewell, inviting listeners to leave all of their stuff behind and move on.

Jasmine Poole as Wonky Tonk is the kind of lyricist that writes from personal experience while always managing to find that certain something that connects with a broad range of people. She also seamlessly alternates between embracing and rejecting and knows how to do so in a way that allows her fun personality to shine through with natural authenticity. Poole was once quoted as saying, “My ultimate goal is to Wonk Up the world.” With Stuff We Leave Behind, she is well on her way and that is a beautiful thing.