The Portland Phoenix – LIVE AT THE MAJESTIC

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March 21 – 28, 2002

Kate Schrock LiveKate Schrock has this reputation for being one seriously deep chick — people are always describing her music as haunting, or ultra-personal, or mesmerizing. But it doesn’t really come through on the studio recordings. Her latest, Dames Rocket is great, but not haunting. With instrumentation by folks like Nate Schrock, Spencer Albee, Reed Chambers (Relish), and Ginger Cote, too much of the essential Kate gets lost in what wind up being really good, if really depressing, pop/folk tunes.

This live album, however, this will get you. Unless you’re just completely heartless. Here, Schrock is laid completely bare, with her piano the only thing accompanying her (yes) mesmerizing voice singing (you got it) ultra-personal lyrics. Take “The Edge” as an example.

On Rocket, the tune opens with some poppy Jim Begley drums, then mixes in some guitar by Steve Drown and brother Nate. When the chorus comes, you might be led to believe this is an upbeat tune. But here on the live album the chorus just about knocks you down. “I’d go to the edge,” Schrock sings desperately, her voice rising for the last syllable, “trying to understand.” Whoever this guy is that can “look upon someone with both love and hate,” who can “lie and cheat and still sleep at night” — well, I just wanted to grab him by the collar and give him a good shake for making anyone desperate enough to sing a song like that.

Such passion from someone who claims to be nervous in pre-song banter is damn impressive.

Recorded last June in Tulsa, Oklahoma while Schrock was on tour with Monte Montgomery, this disc is good, and not just because it’s a fine mix of tunes off Schrock’s Shunyata (“Overboard” and “Madman” sparkle), Refuge (a spare “Mission Beach” is very cool), and Rocket (“St. Jude” would do Billy Joel proud). It’s a lasting document of what makes Schrock’s music original and profound.

— Sam Pfeifle

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