Goddess of Imperfection
Pangea, NYC, April 9, 2017
Reviewed by Randolph B. Eigenbrode for Cabaret Scenes
Carol Lipnik’s newest residency at Pangea in the East Village is a match made in Heaven. The intimate venue’s clientele is the downtown artsy-intellectual crowd whose sensibilities seem to align with Lipnik’s dynamic. And, as the show unfolded, they became apostles of her unique stylings and interpretations. Quipping at one point, “Stop pretending; be what you’ll be,” Lipnik fully embodied the sentiment and they followed.
Outfitted in a form-fitting turquoise dress with a peacock-print shawl kimono, Lipnik served up a heap of metaphoric messaging reminiscent of Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, and Stevie Nicks. Possessing an impressive range and clarity in both tone and agility, Lipnik indeed sounded divine with a signature hiccup vocal attack and a strong soprano top end.
Gravitating, however, towards songwriters with a flair for the esoteric (Leonard Cohen, Helen Adam, Talking Heads) makes it difficult for audience connection and distracts from Lipnik’s storytelling. She, for sure, has a lyrical connection and, while she may feel them to her core (chakra?), this can present quite a disconnect for an audience who ends up witnessing rather than experiencing.
Joined by guests Rachelle Garniez (quirky) and Rachel Mason (equally quirky), Lipnik creates a singular sanctuary for herself and her friends to showcase their alt-cabaret talents aided by duck whistles, vocoder effects, and interpretive act-out moments. And while pieces like “Anthem” (Leonard Cohen) and “The Poacher” (which she co-wrote with David Cale) intrigue, they demonstrate little journey and certainly do very little in the way of reflecting back to the audience.
Perhaps Lipnik seems so exclusive because she is a holdover from a different era. But, even for a goddess with imperfections, this lack of give-and-take with her disciples ultimately makes her gospel less of a sermon and more of a screed.