Live Review: Jessica Carter Altman

Hotel Café  Hollywood, CA

Contact: Gillian Driscoll @ Gillian Jean Creative / [email protected]

Web: jessicacarteraltman.com

Players: Jessica Altman, vocals; Vanessa Bryan, backing vocals; Michael Herring, guitar; Alex Burke, keyboard; Brandon Brown, bass; Dylan Elise, drums

Material: Playing to a tight-knit, supportive crowd, Jessica Carter Altman shared yet-to-be-released music from two coming EPs during her intimate Hollywood show. As a gentle lilting opener, the song harmonies in “Fake It” shone through, with stellar backing vocals and beautifully blended instrumentals that continued throughout the evening. Between gently honest lyrical stories and a clean, tight band, Altman showed the makings of something truly special

Musicianship: Backed by a phenomenal group of some of Los Angeles’s best players, “Aftermath” revealed a great bass sound (courtesy of Brandon Brown), with a funky build that landed with yummy warm vocals. “Naïve” brought a more theatrical style, with a sensitive rhythm section underpinning, more great harmonized voices, and rich organ sounds from the keys (added by Alex Burke). Room favorite, “Pieces” delivered a post-breakup shakeup, with great guitar licks from Michael “Fish” Herring, and more fabulous bass lines and organ sound. “Lucky One” (from 2022’s EP For You) saw things switching gears to a lullaby-feeling country ballad.

Performance: Stepping things up a notch with the Ashford/Simpson/Armstead classic “I Don’t Need No Doctor” (previously covered by Ray Charles and John Mayer), the group added a great guitar intro, heavier funk bass, edgier vocal sound, and solos from each of the musicians on stage, while “Bad Energy” shared a grungier-sounding guitar intro. Altman’s open, transparent lyricism made for a relatable performance, and her down-to-earth approach with her audience—especially on “Clumsy” (speaking to her quirkiness when she first met her now-husband) and newest release “Naïve” (referencing how her dad used to describe her), helped form a genuine connection with the room. 

Summary: Sincere and sweet, Jessica Carter Altman brings an unusual softness to the stage. Clearly appreciative of the opportunity to share her artistry with a crowd, her demeanor shares a level of gentleness and humility rarely seen in performance circuits. Altman’s stories of resilience and vulnerability, along with her quirky and relatable personality, make for a refreshing combination inside a comfortable evening of authentic storytelling.

Photo by Ted Cohen