Lisa Yaeger: Jersey Girl

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Lisa Yaeger

Jersey Girl

Metropolitan Room, NYC, 6/8/17

Reviewed by Rob Lester for Cabaret Scenes

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“The Garden State,” once-and-again home state of Lisa Yeager, inspires serene states of mind and a blooming, vibrant musical garden of a themed show: songs connected somehow to that place with America’s greatest number of blueberries and toxic waste sites. The likable singer/de facto one-gal cheery chamber of commerce is tour guide with FYI bits about one NJ VIP after another. Singers from Connie Francis to Francis Albert Sinatra and singer-songwriters like Springsteen spring forth; she arranges including arranger Nelson Riddle and “the kid from Red Bank” counts, too (Count Basie). Yeager, relaxed in the crook of Rick Jensen’s lucky piano, seems at peace, at ease, owning stage, diverse material, and patter.

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Smiles aren’t giddily overeager-to-please; rather, she’s someone serene and comfortable, as at home with her audience of friends and strangers as she is in her new New Jersey town and in spinning fond memories. This “Summer Wind” doesn’t swing here as it often does, but it’s a languid breeze heavy with memories not so easy to imagine blowing away. Also shot through with recalled incidents (even more specifically, thanks to its words) is Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “This Shirt,” wrapped around the storytelling mood-setter as snugly as the garment cut from the same cloth as the best modern, down-to-earth reflections.

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Deftly directed by simpatico director Lina Koutrakos, with a band, it’s audience-connection time. There’s much pop ground well covered, from different decades. “Poetry Man,” the number that put the late Phoebe Snow on the map, is a smart choice, as one of the performer’s strengths is getting us to visualize people and transmitting the affection she projects for them. October 7 and November 1 1 are the autumn Don’t Tell Mama gigs for this Jersey Girl—and you don’t need to traverse a bridge or tunnel.

Rob Lester

2015 is native New Yorker Rob Lester's eighth year as contributing writer, beginning by reviewing a salute to Frank Sinatra, whose recordings have played on his personal soundtrack since the womb. (His Cabaret Scenes Foundation member mom started him with her favorite; like his dad, he became an uber-avid record collector/ fan of the Great American Songbook's great singers and writers.) Soon, he was attending shows, seeking out up-and-comers and already-came-ups, still reading and listening voraciously. He also writes for and, has been cabaret-centric as awards judge, panel member/co-host, and produces benefit/tribute shows, including one for us.