Saturday, July 16, 2011

Live Girls!

A new Ann Hampton/Liz Callaway show is a cause for celebration, so it just goes that a new live recording of theirs would be a national holiday.  I always say that no two voices blend as well together as The Callaways. Their previous live recording, Sibling Revelry, was played so much in my house I can recite their patter there verbatim. This new recording is a preservation a show in New York's Birdland last May: a celebration of shows from the 60s. Both Ann and Liz grew up listening to the music of the 60s. But their musical preferences are as distinct as their voices: Ann's earthy alto favored the music of Joni Mitchell while Liz's sunny soprano went for Petula Clark. Still, they found a common ground: Carole King and the classic "tapestry" album.  They alternate solos between their duets and each one is as great as the other: Liz has always been  a great interpreter of the Bachrach catalogue (She even starred in a Broadway show revue of his songs) and Ann's sensitivity is perfect for Mitchell's "A Case Of You."  I love how they make some of these chestnuts sound very new, case in point: I felt like I was hearing "The Way We Were" for the first time, perfectly well-blended with their harmonies. And that blending is never better in "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be." (There's a fantastic studio version of that in Liz's album 'Passage Of Time.)  As a live album, the disc preserves the show perfectly as it captures the energy of the evening. It doesn't get better than this, and I suspect it won't be long before I memorize the patter on this show and disc.

And while I have your attention on live performances preserved on disc, I have to mention Adele's July 7th performance at The Roundhouse in London which is now available as an EP. This is her first live show after her recent bout with laryngitis, and it looks like her voice survived that attack. I don't think I have to convince anyone how great she is - a deeply-feeling singer with a robust voice peppered with just the right amount of huskiness. The EP has her singing most of her hits that we know and love: "One And Only," "Rumour Has It," and "Rolling In The Deep."  But lo and behold, she covers Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me," and even though this a song I have gotten cold on over the years, I realize that with the right singer, it can still break my heart.

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