Lynn Henderson: If We Only Have Love

| June 6, 2015

Lynn Henderson

If We Only Have Love

June 4, 2015

Reviewed by Victoria Ordin for Cabaret Scenes

Lynn-Henderson-If-We-Only-Have-Love_212I’m not sure what I can add to Marilyn Maye’s generous praise for Lynn Henderson’s If We Only Have Love. Maye calls the album, based on recent cabaret shows (including a successful run at the Metropolitan Room), a “carefully planned recording” which beautifully conveys “Lynn’s great love for the art of singing” as well as her lyric “understanding, honesty and caring.” So I will simply try to imagine what lies behind Maye’s respect for the album by a singer who has been a big band vocalist, a saloon singer, a Handel soloist and, finally, a cabaret singer.

In the album jacket, the Connecticut-based Henderson (who confesses on her website to wearing out a Doris Day recording in grade school), refers to Douglas J. Cohen as her “musical guru.” From the CD’s opening track, “It’s Showtime,” written by the award-winning Cohen himself, one can see why. As with the best musical directors, his piano and arrangements deepen Henderson’s interpretation of songs as different as “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Streets of London,” “If We Only Have Love,” “When October Goes,” and the album’s undeniable high point, “One Note Samba”/“Johnny One Note.”

The album’s musical range reflects not only the many personal roles Henderson has played in her life—singer, wife, mother, divorcee, equestrienne, and businesswoman—but her extensive travels. All this no doubt contributes to the humanity Maye discerns in Henderson’s singing. Nowhere is this more evident than in her sensitive rendering of Ralph McTell’s sad 1963 ballad about society’s most vulnerable and neglected, “Streets of London,” and in her wistful yet wise tones in Cohen’s heartbreaking “Time to Put the Toys Away.” The segue from the Cohen ballad to “When October Goes” is inspired, given the song’s history. Johnny Mercer began the lyrics, but Barry Manilow completed the song in the wake of Mercer’s bout with cancer. The upbeat “Fly Me to the Moon”/“Blue Moon,” which follows, provides welcome relief from the melancholy of both. That the Jacques Brel/Mort Shuman & Eric Blau song with which the CD closes is also its title reveals much about Henderson’s vision, at least to those familiar with the politically incisive musical from 1968, Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.

If We Only Have Love improves on successive hearings, but well worth buying just for “One Note Samba.” Henderson is in her element with the bossa nova hit from the 1968 Grammy-winning Jazz Samba (Getz/Byrd/Jobim). I must have listened to the song 30 times in two days while tooling around L.A. in my Saab, just as Henderson replayed Day songs over and over. What could be a more fitting tribute?

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Category: Music, Music Reviews, New York City, New York City Music Reviews

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