A cozy performance with Jared Saltiel

Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 4:43pm

I was in a bad mood last Thursday, but I was pleasantly surprised when I walked out of Literati feeling calmer.

Jared Saltiel, a folk musician, delivered an intimate performance in his hometown of Ann Arbor. The singer-songwriter, producer and arranger alternated on the guitar and keyboard this past Thursday night.

I don’t know what I was expecting when I first heard his voice, but I was taken aback by the smooth, soft and gentle performance. I had listened to his songs online before the performance, but it’s always different to hear someone sing live.  

Saltiel performed several songs from his new album Out of Clay, which will be released in Feb 2018. His first album, The Light Within, explores mystical landscapes and takes the form of a travelogue.

He also sang his recently released single “Wayward Queen.” Opening with the lines “long before the leaves had turned, back when the Earth was green,” I could see the gorgeous delicacy of Saltiel’s poetic lines.

“Dreamcatcher” was the heart of Saltiel’s performance. Also a track from his new album, the emotion in his voice was palpable. For the first time that night, Saltiel stopped performing for us and started performing for himself ––  and it showed. He gained momentum with the build-up of the song at the beginning and kept going, receiving one of the loudest applauses of the night.

This emotion was also present in “Way with Words.” One of the beginning lyrics, “she’s just got a way with words, way with words,” was chilling. I found myself leaning in, wanting to know who he was singing about.

Saltiel had a casual and honest performance style. He talked about the influences on his songwriting, ranging from relationships to mythology to the most surprising of things: cats. Saltiel explained that while the cats could be taken as a metaphor for something larger, he really just wrote a song about the cats in his neighborhood, and he imagined them as the eyes and ears for someone.

I appreciated his work on the keyboard. Though Saltiel spent the majority of the performance on the guitar, each song played on the keyboard was unique, displaying the influence of jazz on his style.

Another highlight of the set was a welcome Brazilian song, and I respected how Saltiel challenged himself to sing in another language. He also played a more upbeat, R&B piece that refreshingly changed the pace of his set.

One of my favorite things about watching artists perform is seeing their connection to their work. To me, what distinguishes an artful performance from just a performance is when they allow themselves to be absorbed, to close their eyes, to perform as if it’s just them in a room. I loved each and every moment where Saltiel reveled in his own music. I think there was more space for him to lose his inhibitions, but overall, Saltiel sang a fantastic set. It was enough to be the best part of a very bleak day.