Watching Sal Retta
perform is a bit like bird-watching. If you remain deathly still and hold your breath, you'll be treated to some of the loveliest warbling you've ever heard. But it's not just Retta's trembling, high-register voice that has us all aflutter — it's her songs. The young Kansas City songwriter has the goods to match punches with Jolie Holland, Eleni Mandell, Erin McKeown or any of the other throwback chanteuses we all know and love. She's also one of the most innovative guitarists on the scene, fingerpicking expressive minor-seventh chords and tossing off frilly jazz runs with ease. If she ever adds a band, this bird is gonna be the word.