Jennifer Sheehan

I Know a Place

Feinstein's at Loews Regency
New York, NY
Jennifer Sheehan’s salute to the more wholesome part of the 1960s offers material from Broadway to the Beatles to bossa nova, Bacharach to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bookends.”  Narration seems to have been written for those, like herself, who are too young to have experienced the era. Enthusiasm is clearly genuine.

Known for lovely cabaret/theater vocals, Sheehan here showcases other skills as well. While show tunes and pop ballads are expectedly winning—“Moon River” (Henry Mancini/Johnny Mercer) accompanied only by acoustic guitar is gossamer—the artist also does a worthy turn with “Blossom’s Blues” (Blossom Dearie), mercurially sliding jazz octaves, delivering some swell scat. Pop songs like “I Know a Place” (Tony Hatch) and “Lazy Day” (George Fischoff/Tony Powers) are naturally bubbly. Sheehan infectiously executes period-perfect dance moves. And she attractively looks the part.

When things go dark in Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” and some of the more serious Beatles songs, Sheehan’s voice takes on the shading of Brecht. Unleashing her affecting soprano, she makes the iconic “Woodstock” feel like a cry. Perhaps it was—The Beatles and Diana Rosse left the Supremes, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix died, war in Vietnam (though they never declared it war) raged on despite years of organized demonstrations. Interpreting “Alfie” (Burt Bacharach/Hal David) as a poignant farewell to the era, Sheehan ends her show with the sincerity and sweetness with which it began.

The evening would have been more successful with less material, allowing songs to be more specifically focused and shared in their entirety—brevity here is frustrating.

And I wish she looked at us more often.

Jennifer is at Feinstein's through June 2.

Alix Cohen
Cabaret Scenes
May 24, 2012