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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Road Test for Lyrically Smart Trynin

June 22, 1995|RICHARD CROMELIN

If you didn't know it going into Jennifer Trynin's show at the Troubadour on Tuesday, you could probably guess by the end that she has spent a lot more time writing, recording and playing alone than she has performing with a band.

The Boston-based musician's self-released album "Cockamamie" led to a contract with Warner Bros., which has just reissued the 1994 collection of lyrically smart, musically sharp songs.

At the Troubadour, though, the 31-year-old singer-guitarist's inexperience as a performer showed. Her aggressively casual and chatty manner was perhaps an indie-rocker's way of easing the pressure of an appearance in her new label's hometown, or maybe it was overcompensation for onstage uncertainty. In any case, it subtly diverted attention from her material.

Trynin's musical approach was similarly forced, indulging her lead-guitar abilities at the expense of her songs' best qualities. Her music is animated by dreams of escaping--from a crumbling city, from a dead relationship, from loneliness and boredom--and "Cockamamie's" vibrant pop structures and dynamics provide an effective channel for her expressive intentions.

The assaultive alternative that she and her backing bassist and drummer offered on stage had a visceral appeal for a while, but it soon settled into a generic, static mode that left her voice no room for nuance.

But if all Trynin's groundwork could pay off with "Cockamamie," there's no reason to think a little roadwork won't result in a performer worthy of her music.

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