LIVE: Diane Cluck @ Caffe Lena, 9/14/14

 Diane Cluck
Diane Cluck

Review and photograph by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Soft spoken and, in a way shy, Diane Cluck is the kind of performer that makes her audience lean into the song to hear the words… because they want to. Not because of lack of amplification, but because it’s an intimate thing. Her lovely, woven tapestry of story-telling through song – like her vivid tune about Monte Carlo – makes the listeners follow the story as if they were a part of it.

Gluck’s two sets at Caffe Lena were an interesting mix of heart-felt songs about life through observing or living it. She’s not a Patty Larkin, who explodes on stage with boldness and guitar mastery. Cluck tunes and plays her guitar to work in harmony and pitch with her voice, though not powerful, very effective. She allows space and moments of silence between notes and words.

Half of the small audience were Skidmore students; the other half were curious. Sometimes a buzz about a performer supersedes the actual capabilities of an artist. Cluck has drawn comparisons to Joni Mitchell, but which period or which songs were used for comparison? The Hissing Of Summer Lawns? Or was it the Mingus stuff? Neither period of Joni’s music would apply here to Gluck’s songs and performance style. Maybe Mitchell’s Blue… sort of, kind of.

However, the audience needs a “comparison” to get off the couch and come on down to see a show at Caffe Lena or anywhere else. Cluck definitely has a style. It’s a bit on the gentle side of the songwriting-spectrum, not unlike very early Dar Williams singing about her baby sitter. Cluck is worth a close listen again, and when she returns to Caffe Lena, be sure to lean in and absorb her every word.

NOTE: You don’t have to wait ’til the next time she comes to Caffe Lena. Diane Cluck makes a stop at the intimate Spotty Dog in Hudson at 8pm on Friday (September 19), where she shares the bill with Liv Carrow. Admission is $7.

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