Girl Talk was recorded live to two-track using a single microphone. The liner notes state that Holly Cole's intention in doing so was to preserve the "quintessence of her live performances," and the result is dazzlingly successful. The air of intimacy between artist and listener is so great that, if anything, the feeling of being present in the moment is greater here than on the 1996 live album It Happened One Night. On an album recorded "live in concert," the ambient noises that occur when a large number of people are gathered in one place can seem discordant or inappropriate when you're listening to the CD in your car or your living room; the atmosphere can exclude rather than include you. Put on this disc, however, and you can imagine that Holly Cole is singing for you alone. It's easy to focus on Cole's emotionally compelling delivery, and at first you can be so mesmerized that you forget that the vocalist is one part of a trio. Listen more carefully, and it becomes apparent that the piano and bass accompaniments are deceptively simple -- that they are, in fact, providing a counterpoint to the sung lyrics that is almost conversational. Suddenly, these simple arrangements feel quite complex. The most entertaining song on the album may well be Cole's interpretation of the traditionally sunny and euphoric "Downtown." In her expert hands it moves from near cynicism to a guarded openness that makes this standard seem to have a range of meaning you may never have considered.
AllMusic Review by Maya Geryk