Not long ago one might have wondered what to make of a young singer like Erin Bode, who performed at Blues Alley on Wednesday night. Is she pop, jazz or folk -- or a peculiar hybrid? But that was before Eva Cassidy and Norah Jones paved the way for contemporary female vocalists who quietly traverse genre lines.
Bode clearly admires Cassidy and Jones, and though her voice isn't as distinctive as theirs, its charms are nonetheless evident -- a soprano bright and wistful by turns. Her instincts are admirable, too, as her eclectic choice of songs nearly always suits her talent.
At the Georgetown club, Bode (pronounced "Boady") was accompanied by a close-knit trio featuring pianist Adam Maness. So, perhaps inevitably, there were times when some of the music, particularly a languid arrangement of Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years," quickly recalled Jones's jazz-tinted slant on pop. Yet there were also moments when Bode's influences had nothing to do with contemporary trends. When she performed "Moon River," she sounded as if she were still haunted by Audrey Hepburn's rendition of the song in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
No one will ever accuse Bode of overselling a song. She doesn't awkwardly strive to reach dramatic heights or needlessly embellish a melody. "I Thought About You" and "But Not for Me" were warmly rendered, and a combination of neatly arranged pop diversions (Simon's "Graceland") and Brazilian excursions (sung in English and Portuguese) kept things interesting. No doubt the singer will display more personality and soul down the road.
-- Mike Joyce