The Music Never Ends
January 3, 2017
(Norton Wright Productions)
Reviewed by Les Traub for Cabaret Scenes
Susan Watson took a common cabaret show theme, a story of the stages of love and romance, and created an artistic gem of a CD. A lifetime of experience has shaped the interpretation of the lyrics and the feeling of a look back through the various kinds of love comes through with simplicity and sincerity. This isn’t a treatise on the agony of love, but a gentle and nostalgic journey through life, with perhaps a bump or two along the way. The extraordinary musicianship of producers/arrangers Michele Brourman and Stephan Oberhoff adds a beautifully complementary layer to the project. Their contributions turn many of the selections into art songs without taking the spotlight away from Watson. Brourman’s sensitive work at the piano and keyboards and Oberhoff’s playing on a variety of instruments are a silken wrap around Watson’s finely woven vocals.
Watson gives a sentence or two of introduction for the liner notes to each song, thus placing the song into the context of the story. She is able to convey in her singing the joys of a young girl in the throes of a first love to a mature woman singing with the voice of experience. A well-chosen repertoire tells the story well.
Her light touch on the vocal of the opening track, “Old Friends,” serves as an invitation to the listener to relax and sit back and enjoy the journey. “Starting Here, Starting Now” begins the journey and the first tentative steps of love are delicately taken vocally at the beginning of the song and given a confident reading at the final “starting here, starting now!” at the song’s conclusion. The dreams of a young girl are given a touching take on a dreamy rendition of “My Ship.” The phrase “And the sun sits high in a sapphire sky” ends in a breath of dreamy wonderment at that sky. The song is taken at a very slow tempo, which not only serves to emphasize the gorgeous lyrics, but also enables Watson to beautifully color every image in the song. Robert Kyle’s sax solo adds to the dreamy mood.
Brourman’s solo piano introduction to “A Foggy Day (in London Town)” is a work of art in itself, yet artfully leads into Watson’s take on it. The delightful piano and bass back-and-forth introduction to “Nobody Else but Me” lays the foundation for Watson’s joyous romp through the number. Her laughter during it gives a carefree feeling to the song. The trio of voice, piano and accordion (Oberhoff’s) provides a romantic flow through the simple message of “They Were You.”
David Ross and Marshall Barer’s jewel of a song, “Beyond Compare,” finds Watson beautifully delivering every delicious lyrical reference. Time comes full circle with Brourman’s and Amanda McBroom’s “Old Love” with Watson’s hitting the emotional core of the song. “Here’s to Life” brings this satisfying journey to its appropriate ending.