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Old-soul, young singer-songwriter: Jessica Manning delights at Aster Café

Jessica Manning at Aster Cafe
Jessica Manning at Aster Cafe
Calley Bliss

Last week at Aster Café, Jessica Manning showed Minneapolis that she may be a young voice in the great sea of singer-songwriters, but she’s far from the tarty variety often attached to the “y” word. She has a deep, natural instrument which sounds equally beautiful on ballads like her “favorite song” Bonnie Rait’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” or soulful originals about the hope of love and loves lost. Simple guitar ballads dominated the evening, but if you closed your eyes, you could fill in the blanks with bass, drums, and even a background singer or two. All she needs to do is write her angry chic song and she'll have her set fairly rounded out.

She fits nicely in a category that would include Alice Smith, Sade, and Raul Midon. She's young and sweet, but carries an air of repose and wisdom beyond her years. The voice, the stage presence, the storytelling – its all there. Comfortable with an audience, willing to talk to her crowd, and seemingly ambivalent to weather they're staying with her, or talking over her, yet without any inkling of being defeated or intimidated by either. Her original material waxes melancholy and indicates an inner old soul of a storyteller. With a few more years she’ll elbow her way further out of the soft shell still just barely surrounding her, and when that happens, she's gonna be a monster. May she take Minneapolis by storm.