Midway through her third song last night at Wolf Trap, singer Jane Olivor went out into the crowd. Immediately, she was engulfed in a sea of waving arms and shaking hands. Afterward, she carried on a surprisingly warm conversation with about 2,000 of her ravenous followers.
If only the rest of her show had been as enchanting.
Olivor is, technically, a remarkable singer. She has an impressive range, a precise vibrato and a smooth and gentle way with lyrics. Yet for all of her vocal abilities (and the aforementioned personal charm), Olivor displayed an unnervingly vapid approach to her music.
Her show consisted primarily of excessively sweet and sappy ballads that were given equally sweet and sappy renderings. On songs like "The Last Time I Felt Like This" and "Stay the Night" her voice oozed over the melodies like hot fudge sauce. The more up-tempo pieces were also cloying in their own way, particularly the country-flavored pop ditties, which Olivor infested with a kind of condescending hoked-up hamminess. Throughout, she was right on key and as emotionally moving as Debby Boone.
Only on her own composition, "Pretty Girl," did Olivor manage to come across as a unique vocal stylist. Her voice was fragile and human as it wove its way through the delicate song -- the one time when her music was as ingratiating as her personal pizazz.