It takes a special person to be a successful cabaret singer. Not only must the person have a reasonable set of vocal chords but, even more important, he/she must be a good storyteller. The fact is, many top cabaret performers aren't blessed with vocal techniques that are all that great. But they have a matchless way with the lyrics that rivets listeners to their seats, either in clubs or by their CD players. Bobby Short, Elisabeth Welch, and Barbara Lea are among the better practitioners of this vocal art. Pittsburgh native Joyce Breach can also claim membership in this select club. Not only does she have the requisite elegance with the lyrics of the songs she sings, but she has better-than-ordinary vocal facilities. These are apparent on such tunes as "Thanks for the Memory," "Manhattan in the Rain," and a lovely "The Things We Did Last Summer." The proper play list is critical to a successful cabaret performance. The songs should have a special message; not often typically classified as standards, they are written by composers like Noel Coward, Cy Coleman, and Carolyn Leigh. But cabaret material can be found anywhere, as here in the works of Vic Feldman and Dave Frishberg. Also, while not ignoring the standards, cabaret singers use lesser-known works of those songwriters whose work make up the Great American Songbook. The musical agenda for this CD fits the cabaret singers' bill: tasteful, eclectic songs with lyrics that have some meaning. Humor, often sardonic, is also an important part of the cabaret charisma, here represented by "The Half-of-It, Dearie, Blues." Breach delivers these with impeccable cabaret flair. She gets help with the vocals on three cuts from the light voice of Richard Rodney Bennett, who also provides the piano accompaniment in the tradition of those New York intimate pianists like Buddy Weed and Cy Coleman. This album is filled with expressive renditions of musical pieces, well-known and not so familiar, by a singer with unsurpassed lyrical sensitivity and storytelling skills. Highly recommended.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan