Friday night in Whelans and a small, but enthusiastic crowd have piled into the venue, fresh from battling the elements outside. Cold, wet and slightly miserable, many are in need of a suitable tonic to lift their spirits ahead of the weekend. A cozy performance from Galway folk singer Saileog ní Cheannabháin takes the edge off slightly, but the punters will have to wait until after 9.30 to hear the soulful sounds of the main act. When the small stature of Jennifer Evans (here to launch her EP Works From The Dip & Foul) finally does appears on stage, her quietly assured presence alone seems to draw a hush from the crowd.
She begins with album opener ‘Uncomfortable Word’, a smooth and upbeat jazzy effort that settles the audience almost immediately. Three songs later and her lush vocals, zippy guitar rhythms, and fluctuating melodies have them hooked as Evans perfectly bonds with the venue’s brooding intimacy. The sombre sound of ‘My Own Assassin’ has an intoxicating lull on the room, while the jazz-influenced ‘Promises’ and ‘After Berlin’ are performed to dreamy and delicate perfection. While her excellent vocal range is apparent throughout the night, it would be unfair to describe Evans as merely a voice. With the night’s atmosphere finally beginning to take hold, her dynamic work on the rhythm guitar becomes apparent while she also begins to demonstrate the full extent of her confidence as a performer. Although a slight interruption midway through leads to some unrest in the room, Evan’s doesn’t panic by engaging directly, preferring instead to reel us back in with the sultry downbeat ballad ‘Your Cause’. After proving her ability to control the stage, Evans slowly begins to let her band take more of an active role on proceedings, carefully choosing the right point to reign them back in. Although her stripped-back version of ‘Unfinished Sympathy’, a track that works wonderfully on the album, doesn’t have the desired effect on the crowd, there’s no doubting the power of her rendition of the blues-inspired belter ‘Chilly’.
Having exhibited the best of what her new EP has to offer, Jennifer then winds us down with exterior tracks like ‘Very Fond’ and the gripping ‘The Rush to the Theft the Ache’, before finishing in a stylishly precipitous manner to great appreciation from the now sanguine crowd. The perfect remedy to a dreary winter’s night.