The Hug and Pint, 15/11
Her folk gem ‘Clementine’ boasts millions of hits on Youtube, yet Sarah Jaffe remains an unfamiliar name. For fans like me though, the opportunity to witness the Texan musician’s talent first-hand is a real treat.
Heading downstairs into the cosy venue, I luckily manage to catch the local support act’s final tunes – Emme Woods is a young, sassy indie singer-songwriter with an overall style comparable to the likes of Stevie Nicks, and a trumpet makes a jazzy addition to her raspy blues voice. Together with her entourage she warms up the crowd nicely. However, there’s a clear change in atmosphere when Sarah Jaffe herself walks solo onto the stage dressed in a hoodie and ripped jeans – without a single word of introduction or even so much as a glance at her audience, she fires into a breath-taking cover of ‘Feeling Good’, immediately stunning us into a silence that is to last throughout the entirety of her set.
In fact, if anyone does any talking during the next hour, it’s her. Taking time to connect with us in between songs, she reveals herself to be charmingly funny. Meanwhile, unphased by sleep deprivation and the odd technical mishap, her calm and confident approach renders her performance flawless. Playing tracks like ‘Vulnerable’ on electric guitar and ‘Hard Act to Follow’ on acoustic, her soulful voice makes even the blandest chord progressions interesting as the ebb and flow of shy whispering and gentle palm-muting contrasted with powerful vocals and carefree strumming conveys feeling that demands to be acknowledged. Another endearing feature is her modesty and the honesty of her lyrics – ‘Defense’ confesses a tendency to be uptight, while ‘Overrated’ outright rejects the concept of being cool. Several favourites of mine fail to make it onto the setlist, but Sarah Jaffe is such a uniquely captivating artist that I never even notice, and that’s precisely what makes her cool anyway.