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Micah Sheveloff – Live and On Fire from Firehouse 12 (WIRC Music)

Micah Sheveloff - Live and On Fire From Firehouse 12
4 September 2016

Boston-born keyboardist Sheveloff spent years honing his chops in Beantown outfits The Dream, The Detour, and Velveteen Playboys, before founding still-going Connecticut-based trio The Voodoo Jets in 2000. For the latter, he wields a shoulder-held “keytar,” i.e., an electronic keyboard worn like a guitar. But following two LPs with the Jets, he embarked on a concurrent solo career that revisited his traditional piano-playing roots (growing up, his Beatles-loathing, “hard-core classical musician” parents forbade him to listen to pop music!), resulting in his 2012 debut LP Exhibitionist and its 2013 follow-up The Things I Know EP. On those records, he was backed by an easygoing yet efficient ensemble, including a bassist and drummer. But on this new live LP, recorded at New Haven studio/performance space Firehouse 12, he is accompanied only by sympathetic guitarist Marc Shulman (who also played on the above-mentioned discs, as well as on Suzanne Vega’s 1987 smash Solitude Standing) and soothing vocalist Beth Patella. Their more subdued support, coupled with the venue’s pin-drop, church-quiet ambience and an attentive, breath-holding audience, allows Sheveloff’s twinkling, deep-toned piano trilling and romantic, robust voice to register more prominently than on his previous platters.

As well, each of these nine tracks – two each from his two releases, plus five unreleased songs – benefits from intimate, incandescent production. In fact, aside from a smattering of applause and some brief song introductions, you wouldn’t even know that this was a live recording. On lovely, candlelit tunes like “The Simplest Things,” “Late Train Home,” and “Love and Peace,” you’ll feel like you’ve entered a smoky Greenwich Village jazz club or piano bar just before last call. On each, Shulman’s ethereal guitar effects and Patella’s heavenly harmonies emit just the right amount of shading for Sheveloff’s luminous piano, mellifluous voice, and restless, yearning lyrics to shine. Elsewhere, Patella’s crystal singing bowl on the portentous “Favorite Son” echoes a distant ship’s bell ringing from a foggy coastline, while “Things I Know” marries Sheveloff’s joyful lyrics and jaunty singing with a bouncy, burlesque/ragtime-inspired piano line. With Live and On Fire, Sheveloff has concocted another captivating complement for late-night dalliance searching and dream seeking. (