Rea Boado and Elizabeth Chamberlain: Bigger Than Their Bodies

As I progressed toward Press Food, Coffee, and Wine nestled nicely on High St in Phoenix, I heard her before I saw her. Ree Boado has a voice that I can only characterize as captivating – both passionate and poetic. As I traipsed through the open doors I saw a calm character playing a keyboard in a corner where the wall behind her boasted “Life is too short to drink bad wine.” I don’t know how many songs I missed of her set, but I certainly was surprised by the stunning songs I saw, and I wasn’t the only one – people who were passing by often stopped to take a pleasing peek.

Her voice reminded me of rain on a roof, a river and a rope swing, windows down on a road trip – it was reason with a rhyme, summer nights and shining stars, a bright sun in a cerulean blue sky. She played “the first song I ever wrote on guitar, “You and I,”  and that was all it took for me to take notice. She then played “Disappeared,” which she described as “quite odd and about my life.” After her first set I had a chance to chat with her and she was charming, sweet, and soft-spoken.  When she plays she’s irresistible, conversational, and impossible to ignore.

Other songs she sang included “Angel,” “Famine for the Feast,” “Light of Doubt,” “Easy Life,” a new song “Night Light,” fan favorite “A Mirror Won’t Lie,” which she elaborated is about “being stuck emotionally,” and finally “Island in Your Head.” If you need a reference for Ree she resembles Regina Spektor, though that comparison doesn’t come close to the musical originality of Boado. Her voice whispered comforting words to me and told a tale of transcendence. Boado is not lacking emotion, hers is music with more than a memorable melody, it has a personal meaning and a message. Ree Boado tells timeless and tasteful tales put to tune.

Alternating sets with Ree was Elizabeth Chamberlain, who I was a fan of because of her MySpace, but was floored by during her flawless live performance. When I first heard Elizabeth Chamberlain’s euphonious voice I needed to know more. Who was this wise woman who was so winsome and alluring? I wanted to hear more after being hooked by the first wile words she soulfully sang. Research revealed to me that Elizabeth is 17. Watching her perform live and listening to her music showed me the singer/songwriter has a voice much more advanced than her age.

.           Chamberlain is from Phoenix, Arizona and besides singing and writing songs she also plays both piano and guitar. She began playing piano when she was 5, but admits “I have not continued to play as well as I used to, but I still know how to read and play most of the chords on piano. I just fell in love with guitar and devoted all my time to the guitar instead.” Taking her talent to the next level, she also writes songs not only for herself, but for other artists as well. Alluding to her writing style, she says “When I write songs I write them on guitar and then add lyrics and melodies. Or sometimes a melody will pop into my head, and I will add music to the vocal melodies I created.” She has played at many local events and festivals, including a festival held by the Chicks With Picks, that led to her playing at Tempe Town Lakes with Michelle Branch, who has had success both as a solo artist and is currently one half of the duo The Wreckers. Branch also writes her own songs and plays guitar, and Chamberlain recalls, “It was alot of fun, and she is such an incredible artist.” Being so young, Chamberlain has had to face a lot of fears to follow her fancy. “The whole journey has been challenging so far but it I love it, and that makes up for all the obstacles. I have had to overcome insecurities and really find not only who I was as a person, but as an artist also and really become confident with myself.”.

Chamberlain should be nothing but confident, because she dazzles with her diversity, which ranges from rock to blues. However, it’s her haunting voice that makes me like what I hear. It’s paradoxical: It’s comforting yet gives me chills. If you need examples, think Fiona Apple but more upbeat, the pep of Katy Perry with the presence of Pink, the soul of Joss Stone with the affect of Alanis Morissette.

Some people can’t live up to their promise live, but Chamberlain proved her potential and passed all the previous expectations that I possessed. Her voice is deep, dark, and dramatic. It digs deep from her depths and unlocks doors and opens windows in a way that is wonderful to watch. I definitely was not disappointed.

If possible, I was even more puzzled by her powerful pipes. I was surprised by the sound of her voice every time she sang another song. It’s as if what’s inside of her happily and honestly comes out – her voice is both vulnerable and vindicated and makes a powerful point. It was just her and her guitar, and that’s all she needs – it is not necessary to have noise in the background with Chamberlain’s visceral voice.

Chamberlain opened her set with “The Optimistic Struggle” which she said was “one of my favorites.” She followed that with “Push and Pull,” “Silent for too Long,” “Where Are We Going,” “My Lovin,” “Let It Loose,” “You Caught Me,” “Break the Ice,” and “Beauty in the Breakdown.” Her cover songs included Imogen Heap’s “Let Go,” Duffy’s “Warwick Avenue,” KT Tunstall’s “Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree,” The White Stripes’ “The Denial Twist,” and a version of “Fly” by Lenny Kravitz that was so original that it took me a moment to make out the song. She was also persuaded to play a song that she hasn’t even added a guitar part to yet, and to please her audience she sang the chorus accapella. Two other members of the outstanding organization Chick With Picks, of which both Boado and Chamberlain are associated with, who were there supporting their soulful sisters, shared an improv sing-along to “Never Been to Spain” by Three Dog Night.

Chamberlain took the time to answer some quick questions and share some interesting information. We agreed that “the best songs come at 2 A.M.” She is juggling her career and college, as she is taking classes as well as continuing to strum the guitar chords. She also admitted that she enjoys playing acoustic because it showcases her sensational sound.

Elizabeth Chamberlain has a dangerous dynamic. She’s both Disneyland and a dive bar, dawn and dusk, sunrise and sunset. She has the look of America’s sweetheart with a voice of eyeliner and cigarettes. She may be 17 years young, but her voice is 30 years old.

.Boado and Chamberlain have a passion that permeates from within. They are both powerful and potent performers who earned a perfect ten without a big production at Press. They went back to the basics with a keyboard and a guitar and are bringing singing back! They may have little bodies, but their voices are no doubt big!

Ree Boado

Elizabeth Chamberlain

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