Sam Shaber

perfecT

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The singer/songwriter field became extremely crowded in the 1990s, and in New York, it seemed even more crowded than elsewhere. Anyone who hung out in the Big Apple's numerous cafes and coffee houses could have easily assumed that there was an army of singer/songwriters living on every block of Manhattan. If you were willing to plow through all the mediocre or forgettable ones, you were bound to come across some who showed promise -- and one of the more promising female singer/songwriters who hit the New York scene in the '90s was Sam Shaber. A generally appealing document of her live performances, Perfect was recorded at three New York clubs in 1998: the Bitter End, the Fast Folk Café, and CB's Gallery (which is part of the famous CBGB). Contrary to what its title says, Perfect isn't perfect and falls short of being a gem. But it's generally decent and sometimes excellent, and it lets us know that the folk-pop storyteller has a lot going for her. Shaber has an impressive vocal range; she can sing softly, but when the Manhattan resident chooses to belt, she can let loose with the grit and soulfulness of an R&B singer. While Shaber's vulnerability and sensitivity serve her well on "Invisible Woman," "Mary Ann," "Rain and Sunshine," and the title song, her sense of humor proves to be an equally valuable asset on "Walkin' at Night," which is a catchy number about the pleasures of taking long walks around Manhattan after the sun sets. The singer/songwriter is unaccompanied on these performances. It's just Shaber and her acoustic guitar, and the intimate settings serve her well on this promising CD.

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