Material: Alabama native Jessica Meuse delivers more passion in her live performances than in her recorded work. With her current singles, there is uncertainty as to what kind of artist she seeks to be. “Rio Grande” is a cute, folk-pop love song that easily fits the style of Kacey Musgraves, whereas “Done” is more on the dark, country-rock side dealing with the frustration of being worn down by a toxic relationship. Two different styles make it interesting to see which direction Meuse would take for her live performance.
Musicianship: Meuse exists in a different category from current female country artists. She has a radio-friendly quality similar to Cassadee Pope and Miranda Lambert, but like Lambert she can have a snarky quality that perfectly pairs with, for example, Juliet Simms’ raspy vocals. Meuse’s clear vocals and annunciation paired with a big, sassy southern personality made her audience pay more attention to her instead of their drink.
Performance: The artist’s experience with Season 3 of The Voice (up to the blind auditions) and Season 13 of American Idol (4th place) helped her develop large stage performance skills, which she channeled at her small-scale show. Though she was performing in the corner of a hotel bar, she didn’t let that affect her performance. It was clear that she intended to make the most of her short trip to L.A., and she gave the crowd a chance to see who she is as an artist away from the Idol stage.
The night consisted of Meuse strumming along on her guitar to a handful of original tracks that suited her vocals. She revealed that she focuses on writing about life experiences instead of writing songs people will like, which showcased in her predominantly heartbreak- themed setlist. She had a few love songs in the mix, but the fire wasn’t there and made the performance not quite believable. Meuse ended the night on a strong note with her tongue-in-cheek single “Done” and left the audience with a better idea of her potential.
Summary: Female singers who rely on breakup songs are not everyone’s preference, but Jessica Meuse does it in a tasteful way that fits her style. She admitted that she’s not one to write romantic songs, and in fact songs like “California Dream” and current single “Rio Grande” don’t quite fit her musically. But Meuse has a strong voice that can take her beyond country-pop. And hopefully her American Idol experience will help to further her career.
The Players: Jessica Meuse, vocals, guitar.
Photo by Heather Allen
Venue: Bar 20 On Sunset
City: West Hollywood, CA
Jessica Meuse - "Done"
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