Jessica Bailiff | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Jessica Bailiff

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It's easy to hear the influences that shaped Jessica Bailiff's first two albums: with their spare drumbeats and dense layers of feedback, the records might as well have been credited to Low-Flying Saucer Attack. In fact, Low's Alan Sparhawk produced both records, and Bailiff later worked with Flying Saucer Attack's David Pearce as Clear Horizon. But on her self-titled third album, released on Kranky in 2002, she stepped out from behind the wall of noise to make braver music. She used to bury her voice in the mix, but on Jessica Bailiff her cool, breathy vocals are in front of the subtle arrangements, in which exotic stringed instruments like sitar and violin-uke embroider bright details around her resonant acoustic guitar strumming. For the first time you can even catch some of her lyrics: on "The Hiding Place" she's simultaneously longing for and repulsed by the oblivion of sleep, and on "Swallowed" she's similarly conflicted about romance. Her latest solo release, Live on VPRO Radio (Brainwashed), is a seven-inch collecting four songs she performed on a Dutch radio station in 2002, and it offers a good idea of what to expect from this concert. Stripped down to voice, guitar, bass (played by Nathan Amundson, aka Rivulets), and echo, the performances show Bailiff at her most starkly melancholy. Bailiff headlines, Rivulets plays third, Belgian singer and multi-instrumentalist Annelies Monsere plays second, and Daniel Knox opens. Fri 7/22, 9 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444, $8.

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