Chicago folk project Tenci translates cozy bedroom-written songs to a full band | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Chicago folk project Tenci translates cozy bedroom-written songs to a full band


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Chicago singer-songwriter Jess Shoman started her folk-leaning project Tenci in her bedroom a little more than a year ago. Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else, who opened Tenci’s first show last December at the Hungry Brain, had helped her get the project out of the house. Before that gig, Everyone Else vocalist Tina Scarpello had joined Shoman’s burgeoning band as a bassist and brought early demos of the songs to Radcliffe, who eventually produced and played guitar, sax, and piano on Tenci’s debut album, the new My Heart Is an Open Field (Hobbies). Shoman’s languid, skeletal full-band compositions provide a spacious stage for her disarming, tender vibrato, and even a subtle shift in her voice (such as on the gentle “Joy”) can give you shivers. “Blue Spring” ends with a voice-mail recording from her maternal grandmother, whose name is Tenci—her loving message, like the rest of the album, hints at a lifetime of memories beneath the surface of the music. This show is a release party for My Heart Is an Open Field.   v

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