Close your eyes when Nicki Jaine is onstage, and it’s easy to imagine that you’re listening to the sultry voice of Marlene Dietrich — which is saying something, considering that Jaine had never even heard of the famed German chanteuse until 2002. That’s when fans started voicing comparisons after Jaine’s open-mike performances in Philadelphia. “I really didn’t know her at all,” says the similarly smoky-voiced Bucks County singer. “But then I watched her movies, listened to her recordings, and I absolutely fell in love and embraced it.” Her repertoire now includes not only some of the goddess’s most famous torch songs (she’s become proficient in German), but also Dietrich’s signature instrument: the saw. And though we’re sure one can extract good music from a standard-issue Ace Hardware variety, Jaine opted for a $73 Charlie Blacklock musical saw, with which she delighted overseas crowds last year in Berlin. For those who prefer musical instruments that don’t do double duty, rest assured that Jaine’s forthcoming performance at L’Etage on May 20th will also feature her on the slightly more conventional concertina and guitar. As the great Dietrich herself might have said, we’re falling in love again — we can’t help it.
Nicki Jaine & Friends, May 20th, 7 p.m., at L’Etage, 2nd floor of Beau Monde, 6th and Bainbridge streets; 215-592-0656.