Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
arah Jarosz is enjoying a good run in recent months. In May, she graduated from New England Conservatory of Music. She moved to New York (although the crowd at this show would have something to say about that!). Later this month, she releases her third album, "Build Me Up From Bones," at the tender age of 22.
No wonder Jarosz enjoyed herself as did about 300 people in her Boston area homecoming/CD release show (even if she didn't have any new CDs for sale).
Jarosz has certainly grown as an artist over the years. For starters, her voice has become stronger, more forceful - the type of voice that makes you pay attention. Those songs played during the 83-minute set proved more captivating. But the Texas native also has a quieter side, bordering on the slightly jazzy.
Jarosz played a chunk of songs from the upcoming disc. With some artists, that could prove nettlesome for the fans, but her music is engaging enough and easy to get into. So no worries there.
She digged into various periods of her music for sturdy versions of Come Around from her second disc, "Follow Me Down," Dylan's Simple Twist of Fate from the upcoming release and Ring Them Bells. Jarosz and her backing band of two tore into Bela Fleck's Puddle Jumper, as the instrumental was one of the best songs of the night. On the vocal front, Jarosz turned in a worthy version The Decemberists' dark Shankill Butchers and a singalong on the lively, uplifting closing number of the night, Tom Waits' Come on Up to the House.
Jarosz surrounded herself with a crack two-piece backing outfit of Nathaniel Smith on cello and Alex Hargreaves, mainly on fiddle with some acoustic guitar. Jarosz played a chunk of mandolin, banjo and acoustic guitar. Like Jarosz's singing, the music worked both quietly and more forcefully from all three musicians.
Jarosz developed a satisfying stage presence. She easily responded to the chorus of boos that greeted the news that she moved to New York, saying that Boston will always be close in her heart and that she knew she might be in trouble for outing herself about her new digs.
Life is good for Jarosz, and so was her return to Massachusetts.
Ryan Lee Crosby opened with a satisfying set based in the blues. The local hipster proved to be a sharp guitar player with the song working better when he lifted his voice.