David Edelfelt: Better

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David Edelfelt


Davenport’s, Chicago, IL, October 21,2017

Reviewed by Carla Gordon for Cabaret Scenes

David Edelfelt

Few would argue David Edelfelt’s ranking on the short list for the best voice in Chicago cabaret, but what makes an effective cabaret show goes beyond that. In Better, celebrated the release of his CD of the same name, Edelfelt takes us on engaging journeys that inspire and entertain. We can all relate to the show’s theme—getting better at whatever we may seek; Edelfelt’s song selections, while varied, honor the theme.

The breezy opener “It Isn’t So Good It Couldn’t Get Better” (Fran Landesman/Tommy Wolf) and the uplifting “I Am Changing” (Henry Krieger/Tom Eyen) explored—from differing angles—the wish to improve. “Better,” written by Edelfelt, effectively combines switty word play with the notion that seeking better is smarter than seeking perfect. That Edelfelt is also a busy voice teacher made “Vibrato” (lyrics: Cheri Coons; music: Beckie Menzie) funnier and more meaningful. He captured Susan Werner’s transition from snarky to jealous in “What Did You Do to Your Face?,” about plastic surgery gone wrong…or maybe not. He has a field day with Eric Lane Barnes’ “The Letter Song” relating the story of dumping one’s sweetheart for the sin of bad grammar. It’s especially funny to those among us holding the belief that participle-dangling is arguably a mortal sin. “The Letter Song” also brought a rhythm and blues tempo that added variety to the show.

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Edelfelt wisely eschews vocal flourishes to deliver James Taylor’s thoughtful “Secret o’ Life,” reminding us that in the pursuit of “better” it’s a good idea to “try not to try too hard.” In the closing song, “You Raise Me Up,” the pre-recorded track with the strings was perhaps a bit much in Davenport’s cozy space. It wasn’t needed; Edelfelt’s layered, elevating delivery helped us rise to thoughtful reflection.

Over the years, as David Edelfelt has matured as a cabaret artist, he has embraced the right blend of vocal excellence and emotional engagement.

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We are the better for it.

Carla Gordon

Carla Gordon is a singer/songwriter, director, and producer. The Chicago Tribune cited her among “Chicago’s most accomplished cabaret performers….a major player in Chicago cabaret.” Reviewer Pam Peterson called her “Honey-voiced wisecracker!” Ageless Magazine called her performance as Sophie tucker, “A gem!” Gordon writes custom material for singers nationwide. Her flagship show, "Blacklisted," featuring songs made famous by artists blacklisted under McCarthyism, has toured to critical acclaim. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Cabaret Professionals and on the Advisory Board of the Skokie Theater. Her songs air on WFMT’s Midnight Special and are being performed performed by cabaret artists nationwide. carlacabaret@aol.com