Tuesday night’s Carly Rae Jepsen show at House of Blues was an experience at pop church, with the sweaty masses singing back every word trilled by the Canadian singer with fervency and joy. Jepsen cracked the pop world with her early-2010s confection “Call Me Maybe,” a dizzying flirtation dripping with insistent strings and slightly archaic strategies of attraction. (Even in the early part of this decade, calling a potential paramour had fallen out of favor.) That mega-single — which topped the Hot 100 and the critics’ polls — is by far Jepsen’s biggest hit, at least as far as chart positions go.
But early commercial peaks have their advantages. Since “Maybe” slipped out of the Hot 100, she’s released three albums — 2012’s “Kiss,” 2015’s “Emotion,” and this year’s glittering “Dedicated” — that have been master classes in pop music at its best. Jepsen’s winsome voice and willingness (or perhaps need?) to leave her whole self in her lyrics, combined with her ear for killer hooks, have made her one of the standard-bearers of the genre. “Kiss” laid the groundwork, pairing her voice with ornately detailed dance-pop; “Emotion,” which drew textural inspiration from early-MTV-era staples and spiritual guidance from scribbled-down journal entries, was a high-spot-filled collection of Number One songs in heaven; and “Dedicated,” for which she reportedly wrote 200 songs, added heat to its predecessor’s gloss.
Jepsen’s lithe soprano and wide-eyed romanticism at times cause people to peg her as younger than she is, and to slot her music under the “teenpop” label. (She’ll be 34 in November.) Seeing her live would disabuse anyone of that notion; as she showed on Tuesday, she’s a force of nature onstage, powering through her hits, directing the crowd in call-and-response chants, posing with her saxophone player as he vamps through a solo. That she manages to do this while keeping a brisk pace — Tuesday’s show clocked in at around 90 minutes, which is pretty speedy for a 22-song setlist — only underscores her crisp professionalism.
It also speaks to the appeal of not just pop music, but her brand of it. She’s a master of the three-minute-and-change mini-drama, as songs like the fizzy come-on “Want You in My Room” and the mournful yet exuberant “When I Needed You” show; their detailed lyrics are echoed by how precisely they’re put together, allowing a full glimpse into the head of whatever narrator Jepsen’s channeling. To borrow a line from a recent single of hers, she cuts to the feeling like few others do — and her fervent supporters, who crammed House of Blues, are behind her all the way.
Carly Rae Jepsen
With Mansionair. At House of Blues, TuesdayMaura Johnston can be reached at email@example.com.