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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Michelle Shocked Displays Maturity at House of Blues

About seven years ago, Michelle Shocked emerged as a precocious, political East Texas folkie devoted to the power and purity of songs and the stories they can tell. After side trips into jump blues and string-band experiments, she’s now returned to her beginnings.

On Wednesday at the House of Blues, she showed that she’s no longer a sly kid, but a mature artist bearing songs full of complex, achingly personal narratives. The first part of the show was taken up largely by the 10 new, unfamiliar songs from her self-released “Kind Hearted Woman” album, which is only being sold at her shows.

The fans who packed the club embraced the new material, a moving song cycle of loss and redemption. With able aid from guitarist Fiachna O’Braonain, bassist Peter O’Toole (both members of Ireland’s Hothouse Flowers) and drummer Cedric Anderson, she gave disarming, natural readings of the new material, followed by a frisky, generous set of audience requests.

As charming and intriguing a performer as she’s been in the past, this finally seemed to be the real Shocked on stage. That doesn’t mean she’s settled down, stylistically speaking: She’s currently working on a new album with New Orleans funk-soul master Allen Toussaint.

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