Paula Cole Believes in Love
My familiarity with Paula Cole’s music extended only to her mega-hits ‘Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?’ and the theme from the television show, Dawson’s Creek, but knew that I could not miss the opportunity to see her perform in such an intimate setting.
Because the stage at Club Passim is small, Paula decided to appear with both guitarists who perform with her although not at the same time – Mark Erelli and Jim Henry. They took the stage, playing to accompany Paula’s entrance, but they were nearly drowned out by the applause she received.
Paula is known for writing somewhat sad songs, and the songs she played this night fit that description. She bantered a bit with us between songs, telling us some of this history behind them. One song was written when she was going through a difficult divorce and I could feel not only the pain she experienced but also the catharsis she felt in releasing her emotions through the song.
Paula’s style is difficult to categorize; at times blues, at other times pop or rock and even soul, but always hauntingly beautiful. Some of the other songs she performed were ‘Eloise’ from her most recent album, ‘I Believe in Love’, and a song that was used in a sexy television commercial aimed at women. She also played some songs from her upcoming album which she told us would be released in April (possibly April 7th). One of those songs was ‘Gloucester Harbor Shore’ about the fishermen and fisherwomen of her home town of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Included as well was a beautiful cover of Burt Bacharach’s ‘Walk on By’.
During the set, she alternated between using no instrument to using keyboard or guitar. Piano is her primary instrument, however – in addition to her voice. She had two young women (Deni from The Western Den and Meghan) join her to sing backup on a few songs which was nice support for her. Overall, I preferred the songs when she sang without playing any instrument, possibly because I could concentrate better on the lyrics. Mark and Jim (two guitarists with whom I am quite familiar) provided great guitar as well as backing vocal support for Paula.
They earned a well-deserved standing ovation; after taking a short break, they returned to play ‘Jolene’ to finish the show. What a way to send us into the not-so-cold winter night!
Click here to see photos from this show.