Anya Turner & Robert Grusecki: Dream On

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Anya Turner & Robert Grusecki

Dream On

January 7, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

The delightful husband-and-wife team of Robert Grusecki and Anya Turner offer up their sixth studio recording of material they both wrote and perform themselves. Dream On is a collection of songs written between 2014 and 2017, dealing with such topics as gender identity, body image, faith, and social customs, all with sensitivity and freshness. Although the CD itself contains no information about the songs, the listener is directed to the couple’s website where information about the source of each is explained. The diverse background of the material is surprising, given how well they flow together on the album. Although hardly necessary– given the flawless enunciation of both performers — all of the lyrics are also available on line.

The center of the album is a five-number song cycle inspired by Turner’s college education, deep in Texas, on the value of listening to words. In these works, the couple’s sly sense of humor and social satire is very strong. On parents naming children today (“The Name Song”), they observe:

“Their motive, though tender
Did often cause them to render
A name without gender.
Utterly neutral are we.”

But their comments are always leavened with compassion, such as in “Sister Andrea,” the tale of a religious figure whose obsessiveness leads to a nervous breakdown and the storyteller’s loss of faith, told with a mix of sensitivity and regret.

The most touching of the songs is “Perfect,” a very personal observation on their marriage:

“Oh, what a trip,
Joined at the hip.
No need to stage an intervention.
Our imperfections seem to be
Perfect for you and me.”

It could be seen as a far more intimate version of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sorry/Grateful.”

The title number provides a sweet and positive conclusion to this album. Throughout, Turner uses her powerful and flexible voice to convey their songs, while Grusecki provides wonderful support both vocally and at the piano.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."