Marissa Mulder: Two Tickets Left: Songs of Hope

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Marissa Mulder

Two Tickets Left: Songs of Hope

(Miranda Music)

October 11, 2018

Reviewed by John Hoglund for Cabaret Scenes

It’s easy to see why Marissa Mulder is so sought out and well liked. The lady has a heart that she can’t hide, and it shines through with every note on this recording, like a fleeting butterfly looking to land. With a timely (blessedly non-political) theme and calm assuredness, her latest album, Two Tickets Left: Songs of Hope, she moves up the ladder another notch as her star continues to shine brighter in the cabaret world. Previous albums were more circumspect and moody following alternate themes. Here, she plays to her strongest gifts, personalized storytelling. And what tales she weaves on this new Miranda Music release. The listener can’t help but feel that she is stitching together pieces of time and her life with every phrase.

Kicking it off with Joni Mitchell’s spunky reverie, “Chelsea Morning,” with talented singer/pianist Nate Buccieri on backup vocals and piano, she sets it all up for an eclectic collection of 11 reflective pieces by contemporary songwriters. The certainty of Alanis Morissette’s optimistic hit “Hand in My Pocket” (Morissette/Glen Ballard) is given a sweet treatment that conjures a journey of hope seen through rose-colored glasses: “I’m broke but I’m happy/I’m sad but I’m laughing/I haven’t figured it out yet.” “Chasing the Sun” (Mike Anderson/Sara Bareilles/Jack Antonoff) is a well-defined duet with Buccieri—who deserves credit for his harmonies and pure vocals—that exudes a we’re gonna make it sureness that’s a high spot on the disc: “you look like a stranger in that old fashioned hat and I’ve got a pocket full of change and I don’t want to go home yet.” The simplicity of such forlorn lyrics fused with these blended voices make this a memorable journey told with simple honesty that should resonates with anyone who has ever loved.

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A mild treatment of Sondheim’s “I Remember” (Evening Primrose) is effective.

A touching singer unafraid to walk on the wild side or whisper her secrets, Mulder is on her way to bigger things than cabaret.

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Her high-placed vocals often lend a quality of robust well-being to the story songs she sings. More use of her mid-register might also be welcomed as she is quite effective there. At times, when her voice swells and she adds a touch of drama, as on Matt Albers’ “End of the World,” it gains in a timbre that is full of childlike wonder, giving it the emotional heft needed to be as effective as she is on the likes of Pete Mills’ philosophical “It’s Amazing the Things That Float” and on the darker beauty, “Take It with Me” by Tom Waits that wraps the CD. The Waits song alone turns the disc into a star vehicle, coming from someone who deserves to move on to bigger stages. Few singers emote with her intelligence and lack of excessive ornamentation, making this jewel of a performer the winner she is.

John Hoglund

For over 30 years, John Hoglund has been a respected entertainment writer covering cabaret, jazz, theater and recordings. His writings have appeared in numerous outlets including the Bistro Bits column for Back Stage. John moderated seminars and forums for the International Cabaret Conference At Yale. He produced many celebrity fundraisers in NYC including one of the first benefits after 9/11: “HeartSong:The Heroes' Concert” at The Bottom Line featuring 36 major stars. He co-produced “HeartSong2: The Heroes' Concert” for Katrina victims at Symphony Space and “Miracle On 35th Street” with a star-studded lineup. Other fund raising efforts include the first benefits for Broadway Cares and God's Love, We Deliver. John served on the Board of Directors of MAC for 12 years. He is well known for championing new and rising talents.