[SINGER-SONGWRITER] Breanna Paletta is as humble as they come. Especially for a woman who began her career as a teenage lyricist for some of the city’s most well-respected artists, opened for the Cowboy Junkies and performed her perfect pop tunes at festivals alongside the likes of Tori Amos. Unlike other young, emerging artists, she’s none too concerned with the daunting task of making it big. “My favorite place to play,” says the raven-haired 25-year-old singer-songwriter, “is in Torrey, Utah—this tiny town that no one’s ever heard of. It’s in the high desert, absolutely beautiful…and everyone there, well, they’re just so nice.”
Paletta was raised on “all the good stuff” by musical parents in Portland whose record collection would put any hipster record store’s “folk” section to shame. This artistic atmosphere paved a path for a future song strummer, yet Paletta says childhood shyness (and the accompanying nausea and terror associated with performing in front of people) dissuaded her from ever really considering music as a career choice. But as a high-school student obsessed with listening to Sarah McLachlan’s soprano yodels and spending hours in her bedroom plucking out Beatles tunes on her guitar, a musical door opened. Paletta became involved in a school program called “Deep Roots,” which pairs young lyricists with Portland musicians who put the growing writers’ words to songs. She loved it, and would return several years after she graduated to collaborate with new students—this time as a well-known artist.
Although Paletta has now mastered public performance, her phobia is still evident in conversation. The loudest thing about this songbird is her hot blue, ’80s-style plastic earrings. Hiding behind low-swept, razor-edged bangs, playing with a bit of napkin on the table, Paletta seems a little embarrassed to be talking about herself in public. Maybe it’s that lingering shyness that allows her to deliver tender, wistful music with such effortless subtlety. She’s not trying to knock you over with the force of her high E, she’s not manipulating her vocal chords to mimic others. Her voice rings clear and true, and Paletta shines: She sings the kind of songs that seem to have come to you like the very summer air. They gently woo you and they’re, well, just so nice.
SEE: Breanna Paletta plays Doug Fir on Wednesday, July 30, with Garth Michael McDermott and Justin Jude. 9 pm. $8. 21+. She also plays the Alberta Street Pub on Thursday, Aug. 7.