Sarah Levecque - live review - photo by Apple Kaufmann

Live Review: Sarah Levecque at the Plough and Stars in Cambridge, MA

Material: Exploiting the commonalities between blues, roots rock and country, Sarah Levecque and her supporting players weave a delicate tapestry that soars to ethereal heights yet forever remains grounded in songs of the past. Covers constitute three-quarters of their live repertoire, featuring tunes by Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams, John Lee Hooker and more. Levecque’s take on Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold Heart” remains a standout. The set’s balance explores compositions from her independent releases, Crooked with Me and Beautiful Defeat.

Musicianship: Exceptional players all, Levecque and company blend seamlessly, stitching a cohesive sound that’s balanced to perfection and polished to a shine. Expertly utilizing their interrelated influences, songs are skillfully interspersed, adding stylistic variety that boosts their set’s momentum. Sciascia’s slappy upright bass bleeds with earthy glow and Levecque’s guitars earn praise, but Zarkadas’ incandescent guitar bridges burn down the house. Unique moments include a guest vocalist and percussionist, Sherman, doubling maracas as drum sticks.

Performance: Serving a full hour and 40 minutes of musical bliss, Levecque’s soulful aesthetic makes the perfect Sunday afternoon salve for the soul.

Her offhand demeanor offers comfort and honeyed vocals pierce the heart, yet Levecque fails to make eye contact with her audience and while introducing the other players by name fails to trumpet her own. Sticking to a predetermined set list would reduce confusion and prevent their set from stalling. One ponders whether they could elicit equivalent results inhabiting a larger venue.

Summary: Levecque and her fellow traveler deserve recognition for their outsized abilities and sound that soars to new heights every bit as much as it remains grounded in the American zeitgeist. Increased focus on original material and a few trimmings, such as visual appeal, would push the needle toward greater notoriety. Without an effort to move beyond the artistic confines of their well-heeled musical ancestors, they remain another extraordinarily talented gaggle of virtuosos likely to be passed over in the face of today’s hypercompetitive music industry.

The Players: Sarah Levecque, vocals, guitar; Peter Zarkadas, guitar, vocals; Johnny Sciascia, upright bass; Scott Sherman, drums.

Photo by Apple Kaufmann

Venue: The Plough and Stars
City: Cambridge, MA
Contact: slevecque@comcast.net
Web: sarahlevecque.com

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