Jamila Woods Brings Soulful Healing to Barracuda

 A sold out show: Jamila Woods and her amazing band brought authentic Chicago strength and soul to Barracuda playing her new album LEGACY! LEGACY! The instruments were dressed with bright colored scarves and a black obelisk donning Wood’s lyrics stood tall behind them on stage. 

Sipping warm tea between songs, Woods radiated humility and gratitude. With impeccable composure and insight, she introduced her songs sharing the inspiration and process behind them.

 

Woods dropped some facts about Frida Kahlo’s life and allowed her lyrics to explain the rest in FRIDA, a songstory about a difficult relationship seeking harmony through boundaries; “I like you better when you see me less...We could do it like Frida, we could build a bridge then I could come see ya.” Her thought-provoking lyrics and her melodic vocals cajole the listener to feel between the lines and awe at her command of figurative language.

 

Her positively-charged-proton presence fills the room. Her poetry amplifies the positivity as her lyrics serve to empower herself and the audience. Do not misunderstand this positivism to mean blind idealism or marxism, the positivity instead represents renewed optimism born from adversity. Her song, EARTHA, addresses the battle some may wage with self worth and self love. Before singing this one she asked us, “Has anyone ever been in a relationship that fucked you up?” Imagine how many people confirmed her question with hoots and hollers.

 

This song, EARTHA, became one of the anthems of the evening as Woods paused, demonstrating how to cast a self-love spell and inviting the audience to participate by joining her  to sing the chorus: “Who gonna share my love for me with me?” Everyone’s relationship with Self is unique to their own, but if you were waiting for permission to love yourSelf, here it is from Jamila Woods. Repeat this chorus as many times as necessary. Follow up with HOLY from her HEAVN album. The audience needed no invitation to sing along to this one, the penultimate song of the evening. The hypnotic hymn provides another powerful mantra and declaration: “Woke up this morning with my mind set on loving me.”

The album’s content and scope reaches deeper and farther than just positivity, but it is by this means that she delivers an end (not the end). OCTAVIA is a song of poetic justice and so, so meta. Woods sings, “it used to be a crime to write a line, our great great greats risked their lives to learn by fireside,” as a reverential nod to her ancestral past. She continues, “We are a precious creation, our black has no imitation.” Her lines can resonate with anyone of any background, but her love for her blood is healing and beautiful.

 

Woods’ words are incredible, but her articulation and delivery is what gives them life. ZORA, named after the author Zora Neale Hurston, catches the ear with how she dissects and “discomobs [our] mold” of understanding. With a touch of zen buddhism, the chorus repeats “you will never know everything, everything. I will never know everything, everything;” and with a sprinkle of peaceful protest the second verse is an embedded poem within the song: “My weaponry/ is my energy/ I tenderly/ fill my enemies/ with white light.”

 

Woods brought more than just good energy to the show on Tuesday night, she brought lasting ruminations, free affirmations, and peaceful incantations. The Chicago spirit of the band blessed this Austin crowd.

 

 

 

-Melissa Green