The Show: Wednesday, October 8, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Tiffany Shea

Live from Houston (Self-released)

By Ken Shimamoto

A while ago, a few of us were sitting around the Weekly office taking turns burning each other with lit cigarettes while discussing the paucity of female singers here in the Fort. We pondered the fate of Autumn Barr, with her country-babe-fronting-blues band shtick, and Cynthia Foster, who sang with the Nick Drake tribute band Five Leaves Left before decamping for either superstardom or waitresshood in the greener pastures of L.A. Then there was Heather Knox, who was good, and her ex-roommate Tiffany Shea, who’s maybe the hardest-working of them all — to the tune of 200-plus shows a year for four years.

Neither as edgy as Ani Difranco nor as NPR-friendly as Sara Hickman, Shea occasionally pens a trite lyric but remains a personable and engaging performer. Last seen in these pages bogarting her way into the Grammies with forged credentials, she’s endured more than her share of tragedy — the death of her infant son, a divorce from her manager-husband, a label deal that evaporated. Following sojourns on both coasts, she’s become a consistent presence at every imaginable Fort Worth and Dallas venue since the late-’90s. She just released this new live disc, recorded at Ovations in Houston in March.

Alone with her guitar, Shea explores the emotional terrain of “my fucked-up life.” One might chide her for taking herself too seriously when she sings “Just when I think I’ve found a friend / They have a way of hurting me again” in her tortured-soul manifesto “Sensitive.” But her pipes are undeniably expressive, and she generates real heat with the bluesy passion of “Crush.” The only non-snazz aspect of the package is the murmur of audience conversation — the bane of every acoustic performer’s existence — that grows as the set progresses. Sounds like those H-Town folks have short attention spans.


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