Singer Jenny O. is good in any genre.
When Jenny O. left her home in Long Island, N.Y. for a sunnier coast in Los Angeles at age 18, she continued her pursuit of a much sought after goal — an audience. "I didn't have anyone like that at home," O. says. Something worked, and O.'s sprightly, genre-spanning folk rock has made people listen. O. is on her first nationwide tour after releasing debut album Automechanic in February, and opens a sold-out show with Rodriguez tonight at Tipitina's.
"I wanna dance with my band," O. says of her live shows, hoping the fun she has performing onstage will translate to her crowd. O.'s desire for an electric live show is remnant of her debut record, where her willingness to explore homegrown Americana before switching to sultry — and even psychedelic — guitar-driven ballads make for a well-rounded listen.
It's a promising start for the young singer songwriter. Automechanic shows a knack for earnest songwriting with honey-soaked vocals that tie the record together. Her voice is fragile at times, not far from female folk comrade Anaïs Mitchell, but she's powerful when she needs to be, and experimentation with her voice sets her apart.
O. doesn't settle down much on Automechanic, mixing up styles with every track. The title track along with late-album highlight "Dope Van Gogh" present traditional folk that flows perfectly with O.'s wordy delivery. "Get Lost" channels the quietness and solemnity of a Sufjan Stevens' ballad, but the mood quickly picks up with "Learned My Lessons," a classic hippie romp.
O. says her vocals are the part of her music that is second nature to her. "I'm mostly thinking about the melody and the lyrics," O. said. "My songs tend to come out in different styles and genres with the same record, but I just treat each one like it's own little project."
O.'s stop in New Orleans isn't her first trip down South, but it will be her first time on a Louisiana stage. Her goals for the long tour with Rodgriquez are simple. She hopes to find time to work on songs for her next record, and she wants to enjoy the experience. "My priority is to live it and have a good time," she says. "I'm on tour cause I wanna be on tour. And I don't wanna lose money."