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Pop Music Review

Jonatha Brooke's Earthy, Literate Pop

March 30, 1998|NATALIE NICHOLS

Headlining an evening of literate pop at the Henry Fonda Theatre on Saturday, singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke proved herself a down-to-earth poet, delighting an attentive audience with an apparently inexhaustible supply of anecdotes during 90 minutes of folky tunes.

Brooke sang and played guitar while her backing trio, sometimes augmented by another guitarist, flawlessly crafted lush backdrops for songs that mused wistfully about love and destiny. Curiously, the emotions were often obscured by the complex arrangements and gorgeous vocal harmonies, which recalled Brooke's days with the folk-pop duo the Story. The set proved most affecting in quieter moments, such as Brooke's plaintive take on the whimsical, poignant title track of her second solo album, "10 Wings."

Second-billed Kami Lyle injected a dash of jazz into the proceedings, which began with a half-hour performance by L.A. folk-rock trio Uma. In her white mini-dress and go-go boots, looking a bit like Cindy Brady without the pigtails, the Minneapolis-born singer and trumpeter offered classic Betty Boop-style coquettishness during a 30-minute set that showcased her debut album, "Blue Cinderella."

Lyle was much more intriguing with jazzier compositions such as "Midnight Club," in which her breathy soprano both cooed seductively and wailed like a trumpet. But a little of her schoolgirl demeanor went a long way, and such tunes as "Hocus Pocus," a ballad about two kids from broken homes trying to make love work, proved unbearably cloying.

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