When: Tue., March 20, 9 p.m. 2012
Jennifer O'Connor seems to be singing to herself on "Your Guitar," the final tune on her impressive new album, I Want What You Want (Kiam). "You told me that you / Were tired of the beat / Tired of the beat / That drove you to be / Broke and alone." Though Matador had released her two previous albums, in 2009 the label cut O'Connor loose—her musical career had already left her discouraged and out of money, and that was her breaking point. She put music on the back burner and spent the next year and a half working a series of odd jobs. In the fall of 2010, however, she returned to the studio to record "Swan Song (for Bella)," which would become the thematic centerpiece of her new album. The collection grapples with the compromises of maturity, which for O'Connor involve recognizing that music nourishes her but can't support her financially. On the ballad "7/12/09" she comes to grips with its role in her life, asking "What are you really looking for?"—a big question the other songs work to answer. The album's pop-rock melodies are unadorned, sometimes even stark, but they're memorable and pretty—especially when colored with mild twang, like on "Hidden Hill." O'Connor performs tonight with a five-piece that includes guitarist Tim Foljahn (Two Dollar Guitar), whose new album, Songs for the Age of Extinction, came out on O'Connor's Kiam label; he also opens the show. —Peter Margasak Tim Foljahn and Advance Base open.