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McKeown wins crowd over with her spirited songs

Singer-songwriter Erin McKeown wandered pleasantly from jazz-spiced pop to a folk-cabaret mix Wednesday night at Club Passim in Cambridge. Singer-songwriter Erin McKeown wandered pleasantly from jazz-spiced pop to a folk-cabaret mix Wednesday night at Club Passim in Cambridge. (ERIK JAKOBS for THE BOSTON GLOBE)

CAMBRIDGE - Erin McKeown made rooting for the Red Sox, her home-away-from-home team, a running theme during her charming performance Wednesday night at Club Passim.

Early in the evening the Virginia native - who attended Brown and lived in Boston for a time - observed, "I detect a tiny bit of sadness in the room." And then she went on to profess her faith that "Manny will take us home."

McKeown's between-song cheerleading and banter were nearly as entertaining as her potpourri of styles. Holding the gaze of everyone in the room with her wide-open eyes and winning grin, McKeown wandered pleasantly from confessional singer-songwriter tunes to jazz-spiced pop to a kind of folk-cabaret mix.

When she wasn't revving up the jaunty, semiobscure Great American Song book tunes of her early-2007 release "Sing You Sinners," she was digging into her own bag of unique and spirited originals.

From "Sinners" she reveled in Fats Wallers's hazy, lazy ode to marijuana "If You a Viper," winking through lyrics about the munchies and cottonmouth and then allowing her drummer and keyboardist to stretch out on some fuzzy freestyles. She skipped gaily through the silly and sweet "Rhode Island Is Famous for You" and swung hard on the strutting "I Was a Little too Lonely (You Were a Little too Late)."

Those songs are clearly a source of inspiration for her own fanciful phraseology. Whether proving adept at vaudevillian frivolity with her original yet old-timey "Melody" or lamenting a dissolving affair in the ultracontemporary "You Were Right about Everything," McKeown chooses her words with care.

McKeown had the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand all night, coaxing them into sing-longs or, in the case of closer "La Petite Mort," shout-alongs without having to ask twice.

Whatever the fate of the Sox it seemed likely that McKeown's wish - that the Passim crowd be more lively than the Cleveland crowd she plays to next week - will come true.

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Erin McKeown

With Joshua James

At: Club Passim, Cambridge, Wednesday night

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