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Becca Stevens Band performs in the UB Center for the Arts

“Could she be the new Joni?”

The San Jose Mercury News asked that question, and surely, if she read it, it made Becca Stevens’ skin crawl. Just as Springsteen and so many others resisted being labeled “the new Dylan,” so should every female singer and composer tagged as the next Joni Mitchell be suspicious. Sure, it’s incredibly high praise – Mitchell is one of the most significant and influential songwriters of the 20th century, male or female – but at the same time, it implies that Stevens is somehow casting herself as her own generation’s Joni Mitchell.

That’s not the case. In fact, Stevens seems to be chasing a muse that urges her to create music beyond the grasp of easy description. A former classical guitar major and now a graduate of the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, where she majored in vocal jazz and composition, Stevens also displays a love for indie rock, Americana, chamber pop and alternative music. Part of the brilliance exemplified by her new Becca Stevens Band “Perfect Animal” album can be located in the way she willfully blends all of these interests into an eclectic but accessible whole. Which, come to think of it, is exactly what Mitchell has always done. So maybe the San Jose Mercury News was right to ask that question after all.

The Becca Stevens Band brings its “Perfect Animal” tour to University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $26.50, and $19.50 for students of any school (box office, tickets.com).

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