Her voice sounds like Stevie Nicks the morning after a screaming fight with Lindsay Buckingham in Rio, but Susanna Choffel’s honeyed husk warmed a chilly evening for an hour and 40 minutes Thursday at KGSR’s “Unplugged At the Grove.” Total mystery why
the Austin High product now living in Manhattan isn’t a bigger star. Besides world class talent, she’s got her own sound and look and songs like “Hold Of the Night,” “Raincloud” and “Race Car” you leave the venue humming. There were times, as on the breathy “Hot Shot,” when Choffel and her combo seemed too good for the room.
But the sight of a handful of folks in the good seats leaving at the hour mark attested to the one down side of Choffel’s Brazillian-tanned pop songs. They tend to sound the same as the night wears on. Having her old sidekick Laura Scarborough come up on accordion here and there, added a strolling sidewalk cafe air. Plus, it was a great surprise when Ephraim Owens of the Mumford Horns sat in on trumpet on “Stumble.” But an hour and 40 minutes is just too long to see any act that has been on “The Voice,” even one with the grace of going out on a Bob Marley song.
Choffel played every track from her sensationally ignored 2011 album “Steady Eye Shaky Bow,” did a couple of passable new songs solo electric and dragged out blind audition number “Landslide” for those who hadn’t yet chosen Team Sealy. But the set could’ve used a rocker or another cool cover (Is “To Sir With Love” too much to ask?) The slinky nova mood set early with the marvelous “So the Story Goes” needed a restart or two. Choffel’s trio has got down the dynamics within a song, but the sequence, which ended all weird with “Archer,” lacked a knockout punch. There was a standing ovation at the end of this quite lovely evening of South Americana, but the set should’ve closed with “Landslide,” about half an hour earlier.
But there’s no shame in serving up too much of a good thing. And when the contract says to play ’til 10, well…