Phoebe Kreutz, Woo-frickin-Hoo!

Phoebe Kreutz, Woo-frickin-Hoo!

I know this disclosure might seem a little unexpected, sudden or bold. But since we're all a-bloggin' about each other anyway I thought it would be a good time to tell you, and the world, about how much I like your music. Phoebe Kreutz, you are my musical hero.

Phoebe gets called things like "kooky", "cute", "quirky", and of course "funny". "A love child of Weird Al and Joan Baez" and stuff like that. What she doesn't get called often enough for my taste is "goddamn fucking brilliant." I guess it's hard to make people pay attention in today's word-saturated world with such general descriptors, so you gotta come up with attention-grabbers like that. It might also be that her unassuming-and yes-cute, funny stage persona serves to camouflage her intimidating mastery of language, her skill at storytelling and songwriting, her ability to make analogies between historical and literary characters and her own (and your own) experience of the world.

What gets lost in the "silly" and the "quirky" is the fact that Phoebe Kreutz is an incredibly skilled songwriter, performer and lyricist. Her voice can morph from a folky soprano lilt to a balls-out Broadway belt within the same song, and it somehow makes sense. Her jazzy, delicate guitar playing may seem simple, but the lady knows how to use minor and 7th chords to draw out all the nuanced neurological responses of a finely-crafted symphony. Phoebe has a well-schooled grip on all the incarnations of popular song, from country to showtunes to R&B, and matches her stylistic repertoire to the thematic content of her songs to create an engaging, totally unusual live show.

And like a good Almodovar film or monthly hormonal fluctuation, Phoebe's songs can draw out many emotions all at once, emotions you didn't even know you still had. Whether her song is about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, the new guy at Taco Bell, the Civil War, a cheating ex making babies on the sly, or Anna Karenina, the only "kooky" thing about one of Phoebe's shows is the bizarre cocktail of rapid-fire feelings you will have in the 30 or 40 minutes she's onstage (or one of her super fun lo-fi album is in the stereo.) It's a damn good thing her songs are usually so funny, because you can laugh so hard one moment, you'll have an excuse to be all choked up the next.

At this point I've seen Phoebe perform probably 15 or 20 times, and seen her perform as frontwoman with the zoological rock outfit Urban Barnyard at least as many. I'm still waiting for it to get old, for my reactions to mellow, but I won't hold my breath, because I'm still slapping my thigh and snorting hysterically as hard as ever. I still get all mushy inside when she plays "Disaster," "Math and Pregnancy," and "Taking your Number off My Phone" (or whatever the real title is.) I still actually cry when she plays "Bull Run Beer Run" and yes, "Song to Make You Cry." (How does she know about my weakness for Bambi's mom?!) And I still appreciate the snarky literary riffs ("Lesbian Cowgirl," "Anna Karenina,") and the adept and often hilarious cultural and historical referencing ("Elizabeth I," "The Viking Song", "Good Irish Lad,") that make me feel like we're sharing a bunch of inside jokes.

Phoebe is playing on the upstairs stage of OJ All Day at 5:30, Saturday May 24. To paraphrase one of her lyrics, "she's gonna make us tear up...and then she'll help us cheer up, eventually." I'll see you there.