Before hanging a genre label on Lavere, there should be a great deal of thought. The rather meaningless label of Americana (aka country music by Yankees or people from big cities who have never seen a decent sized patch of grass, let alone the country) might be applied. Lavere is from Louisiana so no need for that Americana crap. You could then move on. But for some reason Lavere, in her subtle defiance of genre, almost craves some label, some box to place her in. Is it swing? Nah, not nearly dancy enough. Sometimes there are hints of “jazz combo” but isn’t dust covered, hidebound and mind numbingly mathematical. It isn’t revivalist Old Time Country. It is all sorts of things brought together with skill and excellent playing and, on her record, production.
Her new record, Stranger Me, has a Captain Beefheart song, Candle Mambo, on it. Think of a swing cum country cum Americana (ugh) cum jazz band playing THAT. Lavere also cannot be compared to the plethora of other--often good- women singer/songwriters out there. Sometimes in ability but not in unorthodox musical choices that are not limited only to covers.
You know…there may even be some rockabilly in there but the non-terrible kind. Maybe Zydeco? She is from Louisiana. So how about swingoldtimejazzcountryzydecorockabillybutnotreallyanyofthatstopwiththelabels. It is a cumbersome name for a new genre but it may catch on.
Some folks will compare her to Patsy Cline. It isn’t totally apt nor totally wrong but Lavere has a better voice, a voice capable of more (let the country music purist death threats begin!).
But the point isn’t to belittle an icon and a legend. Lavere can sing and the impression of fragility is a fitting counter-point, using the non-musical sense of the term, to that moment in the show when the audience hears the power in her voice.
Now, that said, there seemed to be a large number of smitten men in the audience—of a wide range of ages. Before one song she said “There is a very cheap trick with this song and it requires whiskey.” She got her drink and she could have likely asked for the bottle. Half the audience would have left their wives (or husbands) right then, even if they were with their wives. Some of the wives/husbands would have said, “Ok. I totally understand.”