Joy Askew – Rockwood Music Hall

On this night, singer/songwriter/pianist Joy Askew demonstrated that fascinating songs and passionate vocals can transfix an audience under any circumstances. In the dimly-lit room, she remained seated behind the piano during her nine-song set. But although her excellent three-piece band was front and center, Askew dominated the stage. And despite some great solos from guitarist Steve Elliott, her voice was clearly the most prominent instrument. Askew’s style suggests hard-won wisdom but retains a touch of girlish innocence. Performing a half-dozen numbers from her new release, Drunk on You, she mesmerized with beautiful melodies and lyrics that hint at universal secrets on songs like “I Broke The Law,” “Walk The Dog,” “Watch the Little Birds,” and “AOAO.” “In My Life” suggests her social activism, but she is never explicit and generally leaves the message to the listener’s interpretation. She also introduced two new songs, one of which, “Monique’s Window,” was inspired by a story about loss of photographic memories in a war-torn country. The gorgeous “Mammoth” was also premiered, with assistance from the ethereal voices of Liz Tormes and Misty Boyce.

-Kay Cordtz

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