Jackie Venson

Live at Strange Brew

Texas Platters

Nubile and lacking pretense, Austin blues singer/guitarist Jackie Venson lays plain her strengths and weaknesses on her live debut, the rock/reggae-tinged Live at Strange Brew. "Show My Light" elucidates her many qualities right out of the gate, vacillating between ends. While its lyrical content lacks punch, she showcases an innate ability to keep moving, peppering the audience with seasoned blues licks and George Benson-like vocal scat. That said, her willingness to stand naked lyrically and vocally remains one of Venson's most admirable traits. "You impress me, the way you test me," she sings with wispy smoke at a nondescript love interest on "What I Need." Her voice, smoldering and honest, won't blow doors off buildings, but if she could, it would be overkill. The Berklee grad's astonishing proficiency on guitar, best demonstrated on "Back to Earth," portends her future as an instrumental paragon. On tempo change "See What You Want" and island riddim "Lost in Time" one can easily imagine South Austinites greedily rubbing their hands together, anticipating another treasure trove solo.

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