As I have no concept of time and had never heard of the Orange Bear before, I got to Jennifer's show two hours before she was to take the stage. Having neither a watch nor any concept of time, I whiled away the hours with copious amounts of scotch, so perhaps I was not in the right frame of mind to observe a performance and review it impartially and objectively, but I'm going to give it a shot anyway.
Jennifer's set brought a welcome blast of taste and sincerity to the gloriously tacky Orange Bear. She's an inventive guitar stylist whose creative use of harmonics and sliding chords made me shudder with ecstasy. Her strong, clear voice serves her equally well on a ballad about a lost love, a tribute to a deceased friend, or a tender love song. She calls her style "percussive folk," and she means it - lacking the accompaniment of a drummer, she'll slap the soundboard of her guitar, tapping out an intricate rhythm in between furiously strummed chords. Before she began her final song, her E string broke, and she made the best of it; she simply fingerpicked a tune that didn't require it.
She's a genial and confident performer and can make the listener feels as though they know the people she sings about. She does, however, suffer from a problem that plagues many post-"Jagged Little Pill" female vocalists - I call it "Morisette syndrome." It's the nasal half-gasp half-whine that many singers now use to convey passion about something. Thankfully there is a cure for it: experience and burgeoning confidence. Jennifer is already doing a fine job of finding her own voice, and with a few more performances won't need to rely on any kind of vocal crutch.
Michael Moir