Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Beki Hemingway / Too Much Plenty

David Todoran

Whatzup Features Writer

Published June 21, 2001

Heads Up! This article is 21 years old.

Beki Hemingway’s scheduled appearances at two of Fort Wayne’s more acoustic-oriented venues (June 22 at the Dash-In; June 23 at Mad Anthony Brewing Co.) led me to peg her as a folksy singer-songwriter. However, Too Much Plenty paints a rather different picture of Hemingway as a rock singer and art-pop chanteuse.

With guitars growling low beneath Hemingway’s vocal, “Grip” shoots for the subtle, off-beat angst of Aimee Mann before breaking into a soaring, rather Shawn Colvin-like chorus. Echoes of Paula Cole can be heard in Hemingway’s layered falsetto that graces the jangly “Old Man.” In fact, for the first couple of times through the disc, I finally had to convince myself to stop playing “spot that vocal style” (a bit of Julie Miller in the energetic smolder of “Hanging Up The Phone,” a touch of Sam Phillips in the tasty art-rock of “Castles”) in order to get down to the business of hearing what happens when Hemingway wraps herself around a catchy chorus (“Over With”), and take note of how what’s on her mind makes its way through pen to paper only to emerge as a compelling pop melody (as on “Sinsick”): “I only bat my eyelashes/to get you into bed/I only get you into bed/to get you off my back sometimes/and I only want you off my back/so I can do the things/that you don’t approve of/but I need your approval all the time”

In the end, it’s not so much a matter of who Hemingway sounds like, but what she does with how she sounds — overall, she has a knack for crafting songs that, for the most part, veer away from the conventional. Too Much Plenty falters only when the occasionally too-slick production (a constant beef I also have against one of my all time favorite female singer/songwriters – Shawn Colvin), coupled with some overly dramatic arrangements, pushes some of the material toward that 80s-influenced pop commonly associated with the current crop of (so-called) country divas. The upside to such a critique is that Hemingway has both the vocal punch to even be considered in such company, as well as a sometimes self-deprecating and often-piercing perspective on relationships that avoids slipping into sentimental goo. As always, wherever independent artists with the wherewithal to visit our little burg may be concerned, I highly recommend that you head out to one of Hemingway’s local appearances and see, hear, buy.

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