Listening to pop music (i.e., pop, rap, blues, country, rock, soul, etc.) throughout our lives, we’ve been trained to expect verse-chorus-verse-chorus compositional structures, with occasional bridges and/or changed-up keys to intensify emotions. Rare is the song that stops the music with a spoken phrase delivered for dramatic effect, and interrupting a concert’s musical flow with spoken word often propels audience members toward the exit. Jazz and classical music move more freely beyond those strictures, but in the pop universe musical momentum lags when those compositional expectations are upended.
Ojai artist Licity Collins seems intent on sidestepping conventional constructs. Her 2019 album “Love Courage Yes: Live at the Underground Exchange” blends spoken word with folk and rock numbers performed with a band. She performs at the Blue Guitar Wednesday night.
Collins is more of a journalistic poet than a singer; her pitchy vocal phrasing is shaped mostly by the emotion rather than the rhythm of her words. As she explained to NPR during an interview last year, as an artist she doesn’t differentiate much between music and poetry. Growing up in metropolitan Washington, DC, Collins played cello in a youth orchestra while absorbing influences and arrangement ideas from rock music. That attention to milieu still informs her creative sensibility.
“Love Courage Yes” offers live renditions of songs such as “Staring at the Dark” and the fingerpicked “Turn” from her first album, 2018’s “One Girl Town,” with diaristic interludes that alternate between amusing (“Applause is Weird”) and self-analyzing (“Regrets,” “The Hotel Room,” about the shady, dispiriting place she occupied when her mother died that made her “feel like a mole”). Those shifts can be off-putting if spoken word isn’t your thing, but Collins projects confidence in tandem with shared vulnerability, and her delivery and themes — choices made, connections missed, losses sustained — lend themselves to audience interaction. More than giving a show, she seems most interested in reaching headline-battered listeners searching for uplift: “When you come face to face with love, the most courageous thing you can do is say, ‘Yes.’”
Wine & Song presents Licity Collins at the Blue Guitar, Arroyo Seco Golf Course, 1055 Lohman Lane, South Pasadena, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22; $17/$12. Veteran sideman Bernie Larsen is the evening’s other featured artist, and Russian singer-songwriter Igor Bulanov will also perform. Tickets are available at deepmix.thundertix.com/events/161805/saleable_seats?performance_id=2465903. Info: (323) 769-3500. licitycollins.com, blueguitar.club