Gay Barboza is the Attleboro area’s best kept secret. Possessing a particularly strong voice and all the subtle nuances that go along with it, she’s also a singer-songwriter with an ear for the right sound and a mind for all the perceptions and expressions to bring them to life. This had made her a sort of crown jewel in her local music scene in that area between Milford, Massachusetts and northern Rhode Island. While Barboza isn’t as well known outside her local scene, she has all the bells and whistles of someone who could play out in the greater-New England singer-songwriter circuit.
Barboza’s gig last Friday night at Pepperoncini’s had many moments that reflect well on why she has become so visible. She nailed the emotions to Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” with a tender, smooth flowing delivery. Her sustains on Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” showed the range of her voice. A Barboza original, “No Time,” that she strummed out energetically on her six string acoustic, had an earthy vibe that reflected a laid back philosophy from a laid back person. Her chord progression was flinty enough to carry her assertive vocal line as she pushed her way through her meaningful lyrical approach.
Barboza’s interpretation of “Hotel California” showed the clarity, purity, and prettiness of her voice while keeping the tune’s original haunting tone in tact. She also managed the rambling rhythmic motions to Sheryl Crowe‘s “My Favorite Mistake” and the emotive arc of Bob Dylan‘s “Make You Feel My Love.” Barboza delivered the timeless words and chords to “Listen To The Music” with a rising, lifting vocal approach, making one feel what the Doobie Brothers were writing about back in the 1970s. She went into Carol King’s “Too Late, Baby” with a confident verve, her voice getting smoky as it wrapped itself around that simple but honest and memorable chorus. She finessed the lyrics perfectly to Seals And Croft’s “Summer Breeze” and Otis Redding’s “Dock Of The Bay” with soulful vocals and melodically fine acoustic guitar work.
Speaking of Barboza’s gritty acoustic guitar picking, she played a clever interpretation of the melody line to Vertical Horizon’s “Everything You Need” while handling its enticing, subtle, catchy chorus. Then, her voice easily carried the emotive qualities to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” as her nimble finger picking technique pulled out the tasty pulp of musical mesh that made that so song so magical. Her sustain on the ride was smooth, easeful, flawless. Barboza’s mighty strum on Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Who’ll Stop The Rain” placed heavy emphasis on her acoustic guitar’s low end notes, giving the tune its needed weight.
By the time Barboza had begun performing her original, “Supergirl,” she had been joined by percussionist Eric Milot. Milot’s beat box let him augment Barboza’s sweet lyrical exposition of strength, or the lack thereof, with the coolest rhythms imaginable. Barboza handled the vocal melody of her original “Unbroken” with a leisurely confidence as Milot’s percussive smacks added a funkier vibe. Milot, it should be noted, runs a jam at the 140 Pub N Club at 140 Mendon Street in Bellingham, Massachusetts every third Sunday of the month.
“Angels And Demons,” the first song Barboza ever recorded, found its strength in its sturdy acoustic guitar build up and the ever climbing quality of her vocal ability, a voice that sounded strong enough to scale mountains as she made her way forward with bold assurance. Milot, meanwhile, added an extra layer of intrigue to the rhythm. A newer, as yet unrecorded Barboza original, “All The Time,” featured twisty lyrics she graced with a smooth, vocal glide that rode her melody line just perfectly.
Barboza’s interpretation of Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” had a lilting, earthy melody with a sultry groove behind it. Rippling guitar notes pushed their way forward as her rootsy vocal appeal carried the upper register perfectly.
One song after another, Gay Barboza showed, with attention to vocal and melodic detail, and with fine subtle nuances and with broader, wider vocal brushes, that she’s an artist to be noticed. If you happen to be in the greater-Attleboro area, Google her name to see if she has a gig nearby. You won’t be disappointed.