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Baltimore City Paper

No Story to Tell: Cameron Blake, Sea Couch, Sine Jensen, and Adam Trice at the Golden West Café, Jan. 15

Last weekend,

hosted the third edition of the Songwriter Sessions, a monthly event in which local musicians showcase their work in a quiet, intimate setting, often but not necessarily solo. There's apparently been enough confusion about that fairly straightforward format, however, that there have been running jokes on- and offstage about whether the performers were expected to speak at length about their creative process or lyrical inspirations, a la

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VH1 Storytellers

. For the most part, Saturday night's show was simply about songwriters sharing their work with no bells or whistles. Adam Trice of

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opened the night singing his songs with spare accompaniment from a second guitarist. Trice's low, gravelly singing has always sounded just a little bit forced, and while many great singer/songwriters have sung with a somewhat contrived persona, he doesn't quite inhabit the character as well as a Bob Dylan or Tom Waits. Still, the loose, twangy slide guitar leads helped lend his songs a certain atmosphere. Sine Jensen, who performs under the name

, gave the most musically accomplished and compelling performance of the night. Like so many other solo performers these days, Bean relies on effects pedals to create a larger sound, laying down looped guitar riffs and then adding leads or even picking up a violin. But it was her seamless execution, and her ear for texture, that made her songs sound so fully developed and gorgeously layered. The next act, a trio named

, had similar components, but the band's twangy songs used the violin strictly as a fiddle, and the overall sound was much rougher, with flat voices and perfunctory instrumentation, though that did serve as a foreground for their often poignant and humorous lyrics. The night wound down with a performance by

, an ambitious and prolific singer/songwriter who released two albums in December and usually performs with a string quartet or a larger rock backing band. His songs occasionally lost something when stripped down to just his voice and acoustic guitar, but at some points he'd strum feverishly and work up a dark intensity that's rarely been heard in his more ornate full-band arrangements, just the kind of epiphany that the Songwriter Sessions help to reveal.


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