Erin McKeown, Jenn Grant Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., Jan. 25, 9 p.m. 2013

Erin McKeown shows off the malleability of the songs on the new Manifestra (TVP) by including a bonus disc that acknowledges her coffeehouse roots with ten acoustic-guitar versions of the polished full-band tracks on the album proper. McKeown has always seemed to me like a pop polymath trapped in the body of a protest singer, but here she approaches politics with a heavy-handedness she’s previously kept in check. “The Politician” helpfully points out that corruption is bad, and “The Jailer” notes that current border policies are fucked-up. “Baghdad to the Bayou,” which channels the swamp-rock grooves of CCR and ties the war in Iraq to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, was cowritten via text message with Rachel Maddow. I’m down with what McKeown is saying, but I’d personally prefer to find such opining on the op-ed page. Thankfully her delivery—with the exception of the horrible rapping on the title track—redeems these lapses in judgment. Like the proverbial spoonful of sugar, her effortless singing and charming melodies help even bitterest lyric medicine go down. McKeown is joined here by Marc Dalio on drums and Matt Douglas on horns. —Peter Margasak Jenn Grant opens.

Price: $12

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