Meg Christian's show at the Bayou last night presented several paradoxes. Christian has an expressive, bell-toned voice, but her lyrics are vague catch phrases about oversimplified feelings. For a courageous lesbian activist, she writes curiously conservative music: a rhythmless rehash of old folkie formulas. These flaws have proven fatal on her records, but on stage they were partially redeemed by Christian's charisma, offhand humor and enchanting vocals.
Christian's songs largely focus on romantic love and political power among women. Her lyrics, though, reduce these key subjects to underdefined good vibes. Her music lacks the rhythmic snap and melodic shape of songs by fellow feminists such as Cris Williamson or Sweet Honey in the Rock. Whatever definition these songs did have came from Christian's dramatic singing. Her voice took the merest wisp of meaning in the songs and stretched it into resonating vowels. Christian may yet become a superb interpretive singer, for she lit up two pop songs by Brenda Russell and Dusty Springfield.
Christian was backed by her own classical guitar and Diane Lindsay on piano and electric bass. Lindsay's opening set tried to combine jazzy piano and bluesy cabaret singing a la Mose Allison, but didn't quite pull it off.