Cassandra Kubinski: Literally, Mindblowing

To further remind me of the random wonderfulness of the universe, I ended up last night at a live “coffeehouse” performance of Cassandra Kubinski, a singer-songwriter I had never heard of previously.

Kubinski performed in the initimate and completed unplugged space of The Depot as part of the Milford Fine Arts Council’s 2011 Performance Coffeehouse.

Seeing Kubinski’s two-hour, voice-and-piano-only performance of original work added even more fuel to the fire of my belief that there are many very talented artists and musicians working and making great work.

But not necessarily at the level of so-called glamour and fame we see on “Idol.”

I sort of gathered that Kubinksi, like many gifted singer-songwriters — Lovett, Colvin, Emmylou —  has an intense and committed group of followers and fans.

But she isn’t famous and has no fear of the paparazzi catching her doing squats at the gym for “Stars, They’re Just Like Us!”.

Having browsed her MySpace site and listened to her CDs after the performance, I realize how fortunate I was to get to see her perform in this particular space. Without the aid of a microphone, this audience was able to really hear the true range of her voice– an occasionally tender and sometimes brutal mix of Aretha, Norah Jones, Elvis Costello.

Kubinksi, a pianst, is physically lovely, and brings a intimate sensuality to her interaction with her instrument. But that relationship goes beyond any pin-up girl sweetie pie image. Her music  — both lyrically and compositionally — travels rutted and unmarked roads. Like Colvin, Costello and greats like Springsteen, her songs tell stories in the marriage of lyric, voice, and music.

Songs like “Timeless” and “Cradle the Moon” wrench the heart and give you a place to wander in your own angst. Songs like “Textual Healing” “Literally” and “Just Being Myself” show her wit, and her ability to start with an idea of traditional melody and transform it.

I learned two things last night from Cassandra Kubinski: that trusting the universe is often a fine idea when it comes to experiencing art and music.

And that beautiful music and writing is alive and working — if even in cheerful obscurity– in New York City.

Next show? She’ll be at The Bitter End in NYC on April 7.

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