Love her or hate her, no one can argue that Melanie Safka was an artist entirely unafraid to lay her emotions bare before her listeners, and in a real way this is what makes 1970s Leftover Wine the litmus test that identifies a hard-core Melanie fan rather than a casual admirer. While most of Melanie's studio albums featured imaginative and sympathetic production from her (then) husband Peter Schekeryk, Leftover Wine was recorded during a solo show at New York's Carnegie Hall, with no accompaniment other than Melanie's acoustic guitar, and the stark approach is more than a bit polarizing. Melanie is in strong voice on this recording, her guitar work is adequate if not exceptional, and her communication with her audience is intense and impressive, but while Melanie could push the emotional envelope on her studio sides, there are moments here that suggest she's having a session with her analyst rather than performing for a paying audience (though the happy irony is that "Psychotherapy" isn't one of them), while at other times she sounds like a ten-year-old with a case of the giggles. All that said, Leftover Wine's set list is cherry picked from the finer selections on Melanie's early albums, there are more than a few numbers here where she connects solidly with the material and delivers some truly moving music (in particular "Momma Momma" and the title song), and the studio recorded coda "Peace Will Come (According to Plan)" is splendid. For a passionate fan, Leftover Wine is certainly a rewarding listen, but it's probably a steeper climb into Melanie's mindset than most folks would care to take.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming