In support of her latest album, Idiot Child, Hayley Jane was the headliner for WPCD FM’s Singer Songwriter Show Wednesday at the Iron Post. The event also showcased local talents, Angie Heaton (with special guest guitarist Bob Watson) and Kevin Elliott. Jane, playing her set with what members of the audience suspected was walking pneumonia, provided fans a taste of songs from Idiot Child, just a few older favorites, and a cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” that earned her a standing ovation at the end.
Jane’s songbook is, in her words, her diary. She said if you play her songs in the order they were written, you’d be able to guess who they’re about and you’d have “the story of my life.” All her songs are intimate, all of them revealing. She started her hour plus set with “Sell Out,” her smoky, come-hither voice matching the pleading nature of the lyrics. Having access to money or dinner or hey, even health insurance, would be just fine with her. With all the talent on display, it’s hard to understand these things are not quite in her grasp.
One of the reasons she says she doesn’t play often with other musicians is her jealous possessiveness of her material — it’s personal, it’s hers, and no one else will do it justice. Her confessionary songwriting is evident in songs like “Norma Jean,” “Arise Fair Sun,” and “So Pretty When You’re Mean.” During her abbreviated set at the Post, Jane kept her audience entertained with stories about ruining nerd parties (“I can bring anything back to [my hatred of] the Star Wars prequels.”), and how a girl broke her heart and the resulting song won a Patrón tequila songwriting contest (“Arise Fair Sun,” which resulted in about $600 worth of new ostrich feather fans).
Even with a serious coughing illness, Jane’s voice soared, whispered, raged, and cajoled the audience to follow her through the songbook of her life with “Domestic Rhapsody,” and even the upbeat “Ukulele.” She also debuted her latest song, recorded after Idiot Child, the Taylor Swift inspired “It Should Have Been Me.” More stories, more songs; Jane doesn’t just tell the audience about her life as much as provides musical graffiti for the vignettes. An accomplished musician with both guitar and ukulele, she projects the image of a polished performer.
Before Hayley Jane entranced the Iron Post’s standing-room only crowd, local favorite, Angie Heaton played a mostly original set with special guest, guitarist Bob Watson. She provided another example of stellar musicianship married with "all lyrics are personal" songwriting. Heaton, a former Parasol Records employee, regaled the crowd with tales of eBay misadventures and adding songs to the set list that Watson and her hadn’t even rehearsed yet. It was evident that she had many fans and supporters in the audience, she even called out her Words with Friends players (she says she loses all the time). Along with Heaton’s original music, she and Watson did a mashup of “Wild Side of Life/Honkey Tonk Angels” that was pitch perfect. She took a request from the audience (“Hydroplane”) as well as played a song by Tres Chickas. Her easy stage camaraderie with Watson highlighted her strong songwriting talent and musicianship.
Opening up the evening was singer/songwriter Kevin Elliott. He was deliberate in this guitar playing and has a soothing, almost monotone singing voice. During his set he played songs from his latest CD It's a Circus Here, Delores, but also songs from a vast collection of pieces. His voice can get a little thin when going into the higher range. But Elliott’s folk roots were showing this night in the strength of his songwriting. His acoustic accompaniment provided an appreciative audience with deceptively cheery music, but lyrics that highlighted the tough road of a life fully lived.
To purchase Hayley Jane's Idiot Child and other music, please visit hayleyjane.bandcamp.com.
More information about Angie Heaton can be found on her Facebook page.
For more information about Kevin Elliott's latest CD, please visit kevinelliottmusic.com.