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Cosentino's Box of Chocolates "a Giant Ball of Awesome”

Oceanport native impresses large crowd at Tim McLoone’s in Asbury with performance of eclectic new EP.

stays rooted to stage center, which seems like her natural destination. Friendly, solicitous, and always complimentary to her many collaborators and well-wishers, the lithe, long-haired young woman was entirely at ease in the center of .

Certainly it helps that the crowd is there entirely for her, but that’s no small feat given the all-star cast of rockers, folkies, and blues-musicians in attendance for her CD release show. Cosentino seems aware of this as well, thanking everyone from early guitar teachers, family, recording engineers, and her hair dresser.

“It’s like all these creative people coming together to create this big, giant ball of awesome,” she exclaims, as usual, at stage center. “All you media people can quote me on that,” she adds. (Well, don’t mind if I do.)

Cosentino’s youth is immediately apparent (she’s only two years removed from her Bachelor’s at TCNJ) in her effervescent demeanor, but she runs a professional organization which commands respect (that TCNJ degree is in marketing).

A giant home-made sign for Box of Chocolates was hung on the entrance to the upstairs lounge. Chocolate pieces littered the tables of the swanky Tim McLoone’s Supper Club, a clever reminder of the CD’s title, and by extension the CD itself. Journalists walked away with free CDs, guitar picks, a free tab and appropriate terms of endearment courtesy of the star herself.

Possessed of a strong, dusky contralto, recalling Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Jewel and, even Gwen Stefani, Cosentino has been performing since the age of thirteen. A veteran of musical theatre and coffee house open mics, at this point in her young career she’s already warmed stages for no less than The Head and the Heart and Jeffrey Gaines.

Box of Chocolates was recorded with the help of frequent Todd Rundgren collaborator Robert Frazza in Woodstock, New York. This is an impressive pedigree, with or without a press kit. It goes a ways to explaining why watching and listening to her is such a satisfying experience.

As its title suggests, the EP is a grab-bag of different styles and moods, and Cosentino excels in all of them, from the brisk, almost pop-punk of “Insomnia” to the spacious, sprawling finale “Fire Song.” She shows a craftsman’s approach to the material, well in keeping with her New Jersey background. Jersey’s hardscrabble love of family also shines through in the album’s paean to her grandmother, “Grandmother’s Car.”

She works well with her collaborators, particularly lead guitarist Ken McGloin, throughout the CD, which reminds one strongly of the central Jersey ethos of communion and togetherness to create something like … well, like a big ball of awesome.

Cosentino sees Box of Chocolates as something of a coming-of-age record, and the EP is certainly startlingly mature. For all the artist’s experience, however, listeners walked away feeling like Cosentino is only just getting started, that her musical vision can go in any number of directions from this point.

This journalist hopes that the early coffeeshop days aren’t entirely behind her, though; one of the evening’s most touching moments comes when she steps off the stage and, entirely unamplified, sings an earlier number left off the CD, called “Parallel.” It was a wonderful moment, Consentino singing in harmony flanked by a pair of singers and musicians – standing, naturally, stage center.

Cat's website ilovecatmusic.com is still under construction, but in the meantime, you can head to her Facebook page. "Box of Chocolates" is available for preview and purchase on CDBaby or at in Red Bank.

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