Cedar, Rapids, IA (June, 28,2013) It’s been said that the best performers open their hearts and souls up to their audience and invite them in. That is exactly what Paula Cole did Friday night at CSPS Hall in Cedar Rapids. From the moment she walked out on stage, exuberantly expressing her delight at being in Cedar Rapids, people were drawn into an intimate musical journey with a remarkable singer/songwriter.
Her voice has always been expressive, possessing a great range. If anything, she has improved over the years. Whether a breathy, aching whisper in songs like “Eloise”, or soaring to fill the theater in the powerful “Amen”, we were treated to a singer who pours everything she has into each song. Hearing some singers live is a bit of a let down: their live performances don’t seem to stand up to their heavily mixed and multi-tracked recordings. Paula is just the opposite. The emotion she puts into each song is aimed directly at the audience, and you can tell she truly wants each person to join her in the personal, musical journey each song represents.
Paula is best known for the hits “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” and “I Don’t Wanna Wait” (the “Dawson’s Creek” theme song). I felt it was the many lesser known songs she performed that truly invited the audience into her heart. Perhaps that is because her later work, especially, is more personal and marks a direction away from the pop oriented stylings of her earliest work. Her latest album, “Raven” contains some deeply personal and powerful songs such as “Strong, Beautiful Woman”, in which Paula bridges past and present by singing of how her grandmother encouraged her by telling her the sort of woman she would and has become.
Paula ended her performance with “I Don’t Want to Wait” and “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone”. She wryly pointed out that those who have “journeyed with me long enough” know that “I Don’t Want to Wait” was not written for Dawson Creek. She then explained how it was written for her grandfather. She sang a version of it that, thanks to Mark Erelli’s contribution on guitar and vocal, was much more powerful than the recorded version. Her rousing rendition of “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone” had the audience giving her a standing ovation and demanding an encore.
After the show, Paula demonstrated her openness and appreciation of the audience by signing autographs and posing for photos. This is one of the nice things about concerts at CSPS Hall: audience members get the chance to meet the artists as people.’
Images and Review by Charles “Rain” Black