I first met Jason Lowe when we played on CJSF together in August. With the way he talked about his music, you would think he was the worst musician around.
“…When I discovered the difference between good writing and bad and even more terrifying, the difference between it and true art […] the whip came down,” says Truman Capote. You can see that same self-flagellation in Lowe.
Shy and self-critical as any artist, Jason is a gentle person with a quiet voice. His hands shake a little when he plays. But when he opens his mouth to sing, his presence is commanding and at the Trees Organic (Gastown) on September 8th, he had the crowd – which was packed into the tiny coffee house, spilling out the door and peeking in through the windows from the street – captivated and breathless.
His album is on bandcamp. But, truthfully, I wouldn’t recommend that being your first impression. The songs are roomy and poetic, as loose and breezy as his own transience, and via audio it lacks the presence and charm that Lowe brings to his live set. Go see him live first. It will help you appreciate the album more.
Lugging three guitars with him, one of them a lap acoustic, one of them an old vintage acoustic from ’73, and everything shipped over from Australia (himself included), he tells stories about meeting an artist he highly regards, Joni Mitchell; he tunes for five minutes and apologetically informs us that Joni would sometimes tune for a half-hour during her shows.
While people in the crowd murmured “He’s good,” Jason introduced his second song called “Sails of Shimmer” that he says was written in a log cabin in Oregon.
“When a River Parts” is played on the lap acoustic and someone behind me whispers, “flawless”. It is. With a melody to make your heart be still, Lowe sings of fleeting peace, of having everything, if only for a time. And then he grabs a harmonica; for an acoustic coffee house show, Lowe knows how to keep it multi-faceted, and more importantly, interesting.
The harmonica is scorching yet appropriately delicate and politely he thanks everyone for coming to check out the show.
“People supporting live art, it’s a beautiful thing,” he nods.