Alexis Fae Gach

Being Alive

Tom Rolla's Gardenia
West Hollywood, CA
The word is out — Alexis Fae Gach is a superb singer and an engaging performer.  Based on strong word-of-mouth following her first cabaret show a couple of months earlier, Gach did her second show in front of a standing-room-only audience, and it was rewarded with everything it came for and more: wonderful songs well sung, a good bit of scatting, plus self-effacing patter that belied the extent of the talent on the stage.

Gach interprets songs with a soft, jazzy take that sticks close enough to the original melodies to keep them familiar, but provides sufficient room for her to put her own solid stamp on each one.  While the song may be familiar, and another artist’s version may be easy to recall, when you hear Gach sing it, you can’t imagine anyone singing it any differently or any better.  She creates her own distinctive style that is passionate and elegant, with a clear understanding of every single lyric and the ability to communicate a range of emotions within each song.

For example, in “What’s Love Got to Do with It”? (Terry Britten/Graham Lyle), Gach offered less soul that the original, harder-edged Tina Turner version and, instead, took a gentler, more laid-back approach that softened the lyric and the emotion. In “Goin’ Out of My Head” (Teddy Randazzo / Bobby Weinstein), which Gach started a cappella, she demonstrated a lovely tone and a coyness that built steadily to a powerful belt. In “Straighten Up and Fly Right” (Nat King Cole/Irving Mills), she offered a rhythm-and-blues interpretation that also featured heavy, pinpoint scatting — all while sounding like she was making the words up on the spot. She also put her scatting abilities to good use in a salute to Ella Fitzgerald on a hot version of “If You Can’t Sing It (You’ll Have to Swing It)” (Sam Coslow).

Gach was dramatic and sultry in “There Goes a Heartache” (Tom Culver/Rich Eames), a gorgeous, ruminating ’40s-sounding ballad that, in Gach’s throat, was mesmerizing and poignant — and that had lyricist Culver, who was sitting ringside, beaming as he silently mouthed the words and smiled broadly. She was also excellent on “Angel from Montgomery” (John Prine), sung with a strong voice but in a simple, declarative style infused with a lot of feeling that showed she was in complete control of her instrument.

Gach was ably supported by Musical Director Richard Berent on piano, who offered several strong solos, particularly on “There Goes a Heartache,” “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?” (Billy Austin/Louis Jordan) and “If You Can’t Sing It (You’ll Have to Swing It).”

Elliot Zwiebach
Cabaret Scenes
August 21, 2014