Jill Barber looked like she’d just stepped out of a fairy tale. Wearing a short, light-beige ballerina dress covered with what seemed like a million sparkles, she made it evident that it was going to be a star-crossed kind of evening. The Canadian singer/songwriter planned to lull the crowd at Joe’s Pub with songs from her latest album, Mischievous Moon.
Barber performed with the charm of a girl who masterfully uses a veil of innocence to mask her impishness. She sang songs like “Chances” with a jazz-inflected country drawl. Her three-piece band possessed a subdued quirkiness, often switching from violin to clarinet or piano to accordion. Despite the lack of a drummer, the collective still maintained superb, swishing rhythms on playful tunes like “A Wish Under My Pillow.” Barber, sporting six-inch heels, looked like an oversized pixie, but used a guitar in place of a magic wand to complement her lyrics of love and lust. The set closer, “Oh My My,” was a lively send off with gospel handclaps and ominous vocal harmonies. Who would have thought someone could make violin- and accordion-driven music so sensuous?
- Matthew Allen