Pop Reviews : Uneven Set by Pair of Boston Singers

Somewhere between the urbane eclecticism of Suzanne Vega and the simpy, aw-shucks folk of the Indigo Girls lies the Story, a pair of smart, sometimes interesting female singers from Boston who made their Los Angeles debut Thursday at At My Place.

At their best, Jonatha Brooke and Jennifer Kimball captured the wry wit and musical adventurousness of Vega, joining intriguingly distorted harmonies and interesting turns of phrase, as in "Grace in Gravity," the title track from their debut album. But other attempts at cleverness overreached, among them a painfully obvious unrecorded song about dieting and a silly, albeit self-consciously so, stab at voguing a la Madonna. Though the pair was occasionally augmented by keyboards and drums, the essentially circumscribed format of folk-singing duo limited the reach of the daring.

Brooke, who writes all of the Story's material and accompanies the vocals on guitar, is an engaging performer, smiling coyly and playing off the more unusual stage presence of her partner, the shock-maned Kimball. But a winning smile doesn't make much of an impression at radio, and it's hard to imagine that the Story's strange brand of folk, which even in its most accessible form is a hard sell, will either.

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