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Strange bedfellows - Lovett, Loeb - make for good night of music

The Wilbur Theatre, Boston, May 7, 2024

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

At first glance (and maybe even subsequent ones), the pairing of Lyle Lovett and Lisa Loeb seemed like a strange one. Lovett, a Texas native, is a bit of an idiosyncratic personality playing Americana, country and jazzy songs. Seemingly far more conventional, Loeb is a West Coast pop singer with children's songs in her repertoire.

But music can make strange bedfellows - and also enjoyable ones.

It turns out that Loeb opened for Lovett more than two decades ago on his Road to Ensenada Tour, and now they are in the midst of a tour sharing conversation and song.

Nor was this the first rodeo for Lovett with this kind of tour. He has hit the road before with a more musically compatible John Hiatt with him or years ago with Guy Clark, Joe Ely and Hiatt.

These kind of nights are not your typical concert, and that's okay. There weren't a lot of high points with momentum building (nor lows for that matter). Such is the nature of the format where Lovett and Loeb almost always alternated songs and given that there's no band per se, the emphasis is on the singer and song.

Lovett and Loeb sat down on chairs on the theatre stage in a comfortable setting with each playing acoustic guitar. Lovett started the chat about what they did during the day (nothing too exciting) and soon turned to Mother's Day with Loeb saying she was just going to sleep in, not getting up early like she typically does back home in Los Angeles.

With that, Loeb got the musical balling with "This is My Life," a cut from her 2020 and most recent release. Loeb was forceful on the fast-paced song.

Lovett, on the other hand, went way back in his catalogue with the jazzy and funny slow burner "Here I Am" from 1989.

Keeping the light touch, Loeb went with "The Disappearing Pancake," a funny song complete with hand motions (and help from Lovett) for kids from one of her half-dozen children's albums.

Lovett was a more low-key, deadpan humorous sort, finding funny things to say about life. Loeb was more conventional, referencing at one point that she had to make a phone call to arrange carpools for her children out in LA from soccer practice.

Lovett, who often tours with a large band, was comfortable in this setting as well. He sang with a bit of staccato, halting, deliberate quality almost at times. It may not be the smoothest, but there was an intensity to the delivery.

At 56, Loeb's vocal abilities certainly were fully intact. She has a pretty, pleasant voice and has aged gracefully. Loeb also has expanded her musical horizons with children's songs.

While they shared banter together, unfortunately, they didn't share much music together aside from the very short, first encore call-and-response children's song "John the Rabbit." Very very occasionally, one would sing backing (and it was definitely "backing") vocals (Loeb on Lovett's "North Dakota"). It would have been nice to witness more musical interaction. Missed opportunity.

The night closed out well, though, with both more serious. Loeb performed "Sing Out," a positive song she wrote for a Nashville Pride fest celebration. And Lovett went even more personal with "12th of June," a composition about the day his twins were born.

Life assuredly can make for out-of-left field combos that work. Add this to the list.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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