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Review: Sarah Jaffe at Majestic Theatre

Posted 11:29am on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014

In the space of two songs Saturday, Sarah Jaffe erased four years.

The smash cut between 2010 and now — from the aching, string-laden lament of Summer Begs to the sensual, chilly Slow Pour — was striking, a vivid illustration of how much the 28-year-old singer-songwriter has evolved in a relatively short span of time.

Casting aside introspective folk-pop for something deeper, darker and more abrasive, Jaffe has ascended to a rare position among locally-based musicians, continuing to work among other area artists while enjoying a national profile.

Even the setting for her celebration of Don’t Disconnect, her third full-length album — Dallas’ historic Majestic Theatre — seemed more or less chosen just because she hasn’t played there in all her years of North Texas gigs (although she allowed there is a family connection to the space: her grandparents enjoyed their first date there in the 1940s).

Saturday’s performance, like her Wyly Theatre concert a few years back, was being filmed for posterity and, most likely, a future release (as the Wyly show was, on 2011’s The Way Sound Leaves a Room).

Said documentation was likely part of the reason for the bombastic light show, a ceaseless riot of incandescence flickering across the room and often verging on overkill.

Her ice-blonde hair swept back in a severe style, Jaffe, backed by long-time collaborators Robert Gomez, Scott Danbom and Rob Sanchez (and, intermittently, a string quintet), guided a near-capacity crowd through much of Disconnect, which loosened up considerably live ( Some People Will Tell You and Lover Girl, in particular, were more intoxicating here than on record).

When Jaffe focused on delivering spine-tingling moments — her acappella reading of Don’t Disconnect was the night’s singular moment — instead of getting lost amid the dazzle, she succeeded in reminding how she arrived at where she stood Saturday.

Balancing the personal with the polished, Sarah Jaffe has risen to a place of prominence at home and elsewhere.

Seeing what transpires over the next, say, four years will be fascinating.

Another display of Jaffe’s local pull was evident in the selection of Denton-based troubadour Josh T. Pearson opening the evening with a downright odd 45-minute set.

His banter — crowing about having defecated in the same toilet where Johnny Cash once relieved himself; castigating the Dallas Observer for misspelling his name in a recent piece; asking a photographer near the foot of the stage to cease snapping pictures — elicited stiff, nervous chuckles from those seated, while his country-inclined songs — tremulous, raw-nerved and epic in length — sent no less than four people around me scrambling for the lobby.

He wryly thanked “Queen Sarah” for the opportunity to perform locally for the first time in two years, but given the night’s otherwise celebratory vibe, it was a strange chord to be struck.

Preston Jones, 817-390-7713 Twitter: @prestonjones

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