Asked if the emotional pain that suffuses so many of her songs comes from real pain in her life, Jill Cohn offers a common-sense answer: "Oh, sure. It would seem strange to me, actually, to sing about someone else's pain." Having made the interviewer feel like a fool--without meaning to--the Seattle-based singer-songwriter goes on to describe her background. A native of Chatsworth, California, Cohn says she's been playing piano for as long as she can remember. Though she took lessons, "I wasn't too disciplined. I didn't really play what the teacher gave me. I always just played and composed for myself. I couldn't sit down now and play a classical piece. The piano was always a quiet, sacred place for me, where I could speak for myself."
Now in her 30s, Cohn performs regularly with a three-piece combo at Madison's Cafe in Seattle. But it's as a solo act that she comes to the Valley, and her extraordinary, plangently powerful voice requires no support--it's as beautiful an instrument as you're likely to hear in the folk-alternative field these days.
Cohn is still not the star that, on the merits of her pipes and her gift for lyrics, she deserves to be. She still tours in a VW van, with her 11-year-old cat, Tosca, serving as road manager. Accompanying herself on her own electric piano, she sings her self-composed, Joni Mitchell-influenced love laments in the music lounges of Borders Books & Music stores throughout the West.
After the extreme melancholia of her last CD, Matrix's Songs From the Blue Bus, Cohn has tried for--and achieved--a somewhat lighter, sexier tone on her new, self-produced effort, The Absence of Moving. This currently exists only as a "Sample CD Advance" of five songs, which she is selling at her Borders dates to raise money to complete the full album. It serves its purpose--in this incomplete form, the CD leaves you looking forward to more.
--M. V. Moorhead
Jill Cohn is scheduled to perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 3, at Borders Books & Music at 1361 South Alma School in Mesa (480-833-2244); at 7 p.m. Friday, June 4, at Borders at 870 North 54th Street in Chandler (480-961-4915); at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 5, at Borders at Biltmore Fashion Park, 24th Street and Camelback, Suite 200 (602-957-6660); and at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 5, at Borders at 7320 West Bell Road in Glendale (623-487-9110). Admission is free.
Get the Events Newsletter
What's happening in town? From underground club nights to the biggest outdoor festivals, our top picks for the week's best events will always keep you in on the action.