concert reviews

Jonatha Brooke at the Barns of Wolf Trap, Vienna, VA, Thursday 15 November 2007

Jonatha Brooke and Nick Lachey wouldn't seem to have much in common: She's a singer-songwriter who has released her last five albums on her own label, while he's an alumnus of the boy band 98 Degrees. Yet Brooke recently penned several songs for Lachey, one of which -- "Keep the River on Your Right" -- was one of the bolder numbers from her solo show on Thursday night at the Barns at Wolf Trap.

That song's sassiness stood out against her earlier songs, which were sweeter and more dulcet: "Glass Half Empty" and the stunning "It Matters Now" may appear to be sad breakup songs, but Brooke's ever-smiling demeanor rescued them from the cliche of angry-girl rock and turned them, instead, into the pensive recollections of a woman who has made it into a healthier situation.

That charming persona made Brooke herself the real draw of the evening, almost more so than her songs. She was delightful every time she spoke, and she deviated from her set list to play a surprise treat, "I'll Be Right There," a lilting lullaby penned for an as-yet-unfinished "Dumbo" sequel.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 17 November 2007; Page C12
.: Selected discography: Careful What You Wish For (Jonatha Brooke, 2007); Live in New York (Jonatha Brooke, 2006); Steady Pull (Jonatha Brooke, 2006); Back in the Circus (Jonatha Brooke, 2004); Live (Jonatha Brooke, 1999); 10¢ Wings (Jonatha Brooke, 1997); Plumb (Jonatha Brooke & the Story, 1995); The Angel in the House (The Story, 1993); Grace in Gravity (The Story, 1992).