Seldom does one come across a band whose music captures all the best facets of country, blues and rock, but last Saturday at the Cat in the Cream Shivering Timbers proved that it is possible. The trio from Akron, Ohio, consists of vocalist and bassist Sarah Benn, guitarist Jayson Benn and drummer Daniel Kshywonis. They showcased their musical talent with cuts ranging from bluesy ballads to rock songs about life and romance.
From the beginning, dynamics between the two married members, who have performed together for many years, drove the show forward. The couple interacted onstage in an intimate and familiar way, which was reflected musically in the interplay between the guitar and bass lines throughout the songs. Unfortunately, they also overshadowed Kshywonis at times.
The band opened the concert with a calm song from its last record Sing Sing. Sarah Benn immediately captivated the audience with her strong but sensual voice. The band introduced the two next pieces as songs from its as-yet-untitled new record, to be released this fall. The lyrics of these songs appear to be written mainly from the Benn couple’s perspective and to focus on their relationship.
The show then moved toward the band’s country-rock repertoire. This seemed to stir a little more interaction between Sarah Benn and Kshywonis. Sarah Benn’s performance in particular fit well with the rock-inspired songs. Kshywonis and Jayson Benn both had enchanting solos during this portion of the set.
The less lively, more folk-and blues-influenced songs reflected the band’s earliest work and first album, We All Started in The Same Place, which was born out of the couple’s desire to make music for their then-young daughter. Discovered and supported by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, they recorded We All Started in The Same Place in 2010. More recently, they have been touring with numerous artists and bands including Shovels & Rope, Joe Pug, Jessica Lea Mayfield and Kopecky.
Despite the professionalism and talent of the three musicians, the songs seemed to blur into one another toward the set’s end. The show lacked an element of surprise or notable energy changes, and the back and forth between lead singer and guitarist began to get a little repetitive. However, at the end of the show, the audience seemed content. Shivering Timbers offered a perfect set for parents and first-year students to attend together, reassuring parents while leaving students full of good vibes for the rest of their first Saturday night at Oberlin College.
Shivering Timbers satisfied with sometimes dreamy — but never sappy — lyrics and well-arranged songs. The Cat picked a good show to open its year: a low-key performance that people with eclectic music tastes could enjoy despite the lack of shifts in mood changes throughout the night.