It must be real easy to become a cliché if you're a girl holding an acoustic guitar. (Easier than if you're a boy? Discuss.) San Franciscan by way of London Rebecca Cross takes up the challenge and wins it. While she draws on the traditions of Bob Dylan's storytelling and Buffy Sainte-Marie's unapologetic femininity, she also folds in unexpected rhythms and instrumentation to make a spare, torchy folk. Not that she shies away from love songs or politics, but with a vocal tone as crystalline as Sinead O'Connor's, Cross sounds fresh and pretty where you might expect well-worn. She even manages to pull off a sort of rap about plastic surgery; this sweet little voice has a strong command of language and a sharp wit that makes it work. She claims both Micropixie and Led Zeppelin as influences. She's hard to label, let alone stereotype. Remember that next time you see a girl and a guitar.
Thu., April 10, 8 p.m., 2008