Amanda McBroom At Joe’s Pub
She has been away from New York cabaret for two years, but Amanda McBroom recently returned in full artistic force with a series of shows at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater. This gifted songwriter/singer creates musical stories with lyrical grace and piercing honesty. Emotionally complex, her songs touch upon issues as far ranging as our lives in motion (“Wheels”) to the strings that bind lovers together (“Make Me A Kite”). In between, McBroom also displays a sophisticated sense of humor in tunes that poke fun at Martha Stewart (in a number of the same name) and Shakespeare (“Ariel’s Lament”). In addition to being a consummate composer, McBroom in also one of those rare writers who is also a knockout performer. She brings a sparkling talent to her music and acting skills as precise as a jeweler’s. The result is a multifaceted performance. In an act that was comprised entirely of her own songs (with only one exception), McBroom put on a show at Joe’s Pub that was arguably the best she has ever given.
What distinguishes McBroom from her contemporaries is her talent for writing songs (sometimes in collaboration with others, sometimes not) that are flush with feelings. Never over-the-top, her work seethes with a passion that is artfully funneled into music and lyrics. When she performs her song, “DANCE” you’re instantly pulled into her swirl of need and desire; the melody touches your soul, the lyrics tie that touch to your heart. “Errol Flynn”, her deeply moving song (written with Gordon Hunt) about her father, a Hollywood character actor, continues to evoke both the personal and universal relationship between parent and child. And “The Portrait” is yet another tour de force that makes clear why McBroom has forged a very personal relationship with her audience; she writes with both the delicacy and the long-lasting effect of an expensive perfume. In her presence you get that rare whiff of greatness.
Enriched by Joel Silberman’s arrangements and expressive piano accompaniment, McBroom performed a show that featured many of her best known numbers including the song for which she is most well known (“The Rose”). It’s a testament to her talent that even in a generously long performance a good many of her most beloved songs could not get wedged into the act. During her much-deserved encore, the audience called out its favorites and she added two more of her exceptional tunes to an already unforgettable evening.