Musical theater star Patti LuPone rarely releases solo albums, and when she does, they often serve as the audio equivalents of the nightclub acts she assembles for the periods when she isn't appearing in a musical. The Lady with the Torch is one of those musical souvenirs, based on a concert she developed with Scott Wittman gathering together a series of torch songs drawn from the Great American Songbook of Harold Arlen, George and Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn, and others. Frank Sinatra perfected this sort of concept album in the 1950s with such LPs as Only the Lonely, and LuPone follows the formula well in a distaff manner, giving voice to female characters who long for idealized love, cry over love lost, vow revenge, or decide to quit the whole sorry mess. Jonathan Tunick provides punchy, supportive orchestrations for a small jazz band, and LuPone sings with her usual fervor. The victimization and self-pity in many of the lyrics don't actually suit her, however; she is at her best getting her own back, notably in "I Wanna Be Around," and she deliberately throws in a few songs that don't exactly fit the mold, such as the sexy "Do It Again" and "So in Love." Still, it's easy to imagine her putting this set across effectively in a concert hall or nightclub.
The Lady With the Torch Review
by William Ruhlmann