Once moved beyond the fact that she looks effortlessly like a brunette vintage Barbie, Jaime Wyatt has the personality of your favorite aunt who knows how to make the perfect homemade jelly. She is a pale, red-lipped, leggy, Honky-Tonk goddess with long silky black hair. Wyatt can charm the stripes off of a bee, but the sound that spills out, once she leans into her antique microphone, will break your heart.
Sunday evening at the legendary Hotel Café, Wyatt gracefully floated onto the stage wearing an elegant 1940’s style, navy blue, wrap around dress, a refreshing break from the fringe swinging costumes that are now trendy in her genre. The room is as quiet as a library as the last artist transitions out and audiences shift respectfully in anticipation. After trying to catch Wyatt in this sort of setting for about a year now, away from some of the novelty acts that she is sometimes paired with at bigger events, I was so grateful for these organizers, Ones to Watch Productions, for their perfect line-up, also consisting of Shelby Figueroa and Brendan Willing James, whom both played prior to Wyatt.
John Schreffler Jr., one of L.A.’s most revered pedal steel players, backed Wyatt and was a wise choice for this particular room, showing she knows exactly what she’s doing. She began her set with her lonely, winesome song “From Outer Space.” After one bar of Schreffler’s mellifluous note bends combined with Wyatt’s euphonious lament, I felt sympathy for the bovid mammals at home confined by “Game of Thrones.” Wyatt’s cover of Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” offered an idiosyncratic perspective coming from such a lady-like creature with Wyatt’s peculiar sound. “Heavy Metal Love” is another of Wyatt’s own songs about the familiar, self-inflicted escape into a destructive relationship. Her voice is somewhere between a natural vibrato and a yodel, but has been developed over 15-plus years of professional singing. Her vocals and stage presence obviously distinguish her from contemporaries, but it’s her thoroughgoing ability to lead a name-packed band, or perform completely solo several nights a week that really inspire artists around her. Wyatt works hard and has played with almost everyone in L.A., at least in the world of Honky- Tonk, and they all seem to adore her.
Hotel Café is a necessity at some point in any career of a Los Angeles singer/songwriter. Jamie is no stranger there and seemed more comfortable on this small stage than I had seen most artists who play these “listening rooms.” It’s a serious space, offering up preeminent artists, usually for pre-release of an album. Wyatt’s new EP, Misery and Gin will be out this fall and contains more Haggard covers. However, there will be no look alike, performing, guitar-clad doll sold at Wal-Mart. Sorry shoppers.
Review by Bylle Breaux / Photos by Matt Stasi
Published in MonkeyGoose Magazine