Linda Kahn: Wait ’Til You See What’s Next

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Linda Kahn

Wait ’Til You See What’s Next

(Adorable Alice Records)

January 21, 2024

Reviewed by Alix Cohen

Linda Kahn sounds burnished, like dew on the grass, a reverie. Even when a song swells, there’s softness and warmth in her voice. This is not to say that she’s a vocal pushover. Her breathing is sure, and the sustained notes are produced as naturally as exhaling. Octaves rise and fall with graceful intention. This extremely coherent collection is about the coming and going of love. There are no blues, just occasional sadness and then perseverance; it’s a character portrait.

Many selections lead with an introduction using the eight bars of a second lyric. The two feel married. A roster of sensitive musicians and arrangers have been chosen for eloquent empathy. The title song, by Jason Robert Brown, arrives as bubbly anticipation without being unnecessarily cute; the final phrases arc. “Anywhere With You” (Christopher Denny) is lovely and danceable, conjuring scrapbook memories. “Once Upon a Time” (Lee Adams/Charles Strouse) precedes “There’s Always One You Can’t Forget” (Alan Jay Lerner/ Strouse). What begins sunny becomes cloud cover. A parenthesis of bounce intrudes on the second song making no emotional sense before the penumbra resumes.

Judy Barron and Jeffrey D. Harris’ “Why Can’t I Forget?”—“the day I met him…the way he loved me…the way I loved him…the way he said goodbye?”—lays out a sequence with which we’re all familiar. Kahn is wistful, but she’s not drowning. A shrug and a raised eyebrow coexist with melancholy; she’s brushing herself off. Christopher Denny caresses the piano.

“Watch What Happens” (Norman Gimbel/Michel Legrand/Jacques Demy) emerges deeply romantic, making way with an almost visual bow for “The Nearness of You” (Ned Washington/ Hoagy Carmichael) which follows. Kahn brings depth of experience to her interpretation. The collaboration with pianist David Friedman is luxurious. “Gotta Have Me Go with You” (Ira Gershwin/Harold Arlen) sashays in on a very cool bass accompaniment via the artful fingers of Jay Leonhart. Though rhythmic and jaunty, it’s wisely neither forced nor loud and the phrasing is distinctive. Kahn’s chiffon vocal on “I’ve Got a Crush on You” (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) becomes insistent when she goes into “Come Rain or Come Shine” (Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen). Still, it’s more of a statement than the usual wail. “Even Now” (Martin Panzer/Barry Manilow) is deliciously low key. Kahn seems to be alone in a silent house watching a movie of the past. A key change evokes difficulty in accepting.

“Summer with You” (John Kander) paired with “The Summer Knows” (Alan and Marilyn Bergman/Michel Legrand) shimmers by way of Becky Menzies’ arrangement and piano accompaniment. Kahn offers creamy tranquility. The sentimental “Bless Your Heart” (Ira Gasman/Alex Rybeck) escapes being treacly by being treated with articulate respect. “Bless your eyes for seeing me for what I am/And asking nothing more.” Irving Berlin’s “Always” is a coda. Long notes drift. These are forever songs. The piano is so gentle, one wonders how Rybeck makes it audible.

On “The Journey” (Julie Gold) Kahn sings on the waves of the undulating piano accompaniment: “I won’t let the darkness in/What a journey it has been.” Then “Hello road, it’s me again/This time we’re gonna make it to the end.” (“Hello Road”; Debbie Hupp/ Madeline Stone). Sean Harkness’ pristine guitar and arrangement create a filigree of traveling music; each note glides to the next like a creek sliding over pebbles. “Hello road,” the vocalist sings. “There’s not one regret in my trunk full of dreams.” This CD is a beautifully produced compilation.

Alix Cohen

Alix Cohen’s writing began with poetry, segued into lyrics then took a commercial detour. She now authors pieces about culture/the arts, including reviews and features. A diehard proponent of cabaret, she’s also a theater aficionado, a voting member of Drama Desk, The Drama League and of The NY Press Club in addition to MAC. Currently, Alix writes for Cabaret Scenes, Theater Pizzazz and Woman Around Town. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine and Times Square Chronicles. Alix is the recipient of six New York Press Club Awards.