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


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


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.