Kate Jacobs | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Kate Jacobs's stories aren't your typical singer-songwriter narratives. She reduces plot to poignant, telling details; her lyrics read more as paragraphs than stanzas. "Iris Has Faith," a song off her first album, The Calm Comes After, that salutes country-folk singer Iris DeMent, transforms conversation into an art form: "Iris has a lover named Elmer / He's a fireman, and he's much older than her / I say why not find somebody better? somebody younger? / But she laughs, she says she just wants Elmer." Like DeMent Jacobs eschews the traditional cleverness of country wordplay, instead opting for a sharp, straight-up approach. While there's a fair share of love songs, plenty of vignettes tackle other subjects. "A Sister," from her new album, What About Regret, presents a vivid portrait of a motherless and sisterless young girl who runs with the neighborhood boys as a hesitant tomboy when she really wants to pick flowers and act like a girl. "3 Years in Nebraska" is about a couple growing marijuana and fitting in seamlessly with the other farmers ("Farmers loved his way with wrenches / They didn't know about his weeds in the fences") until the female narrator gets nervous and bags out. Jacobs sings her airy country-tinged folk rock with a slippery warble, sliding over clearly defined melodies with a palpable shyness. For this gig she'll be backed by New York's superb Schramms, whose inventive guitarist/leader Dave Schramm plays on both of Jacobs's albums. The Schramms are also on the bill. Monday, 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 525-2508.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Andy French.

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