Susan Winter

A Woman for All Seasons

Megtropolitan Room
New York, NY
Susan Winter is an unaffected professional. She sings as if from a place of truthful observation, making lyrics seem personal. Ease, confidence and bonhomie are projected with cabaret intimacy. This is an assured voice, powerful without raising volume, controlled without losing fluency. Phrasing collaborates with meaning (not a given). Winter can glide from the affecting American Songbook, to piquant performance of contemporary material, to fine-grained jazz inflection. She’s effortlessly engaging and always grounded.

A Woman for All Seasons (relationship of title to content is elusive) presents a wide variety of material currently meaningful to Winter. Her interpretation of “Girl Talk” manages to be both flirty and ironic. Updated verses are spot on. The tremulous “I Can’t Be New” (Susan Werner/Jane Paul) arrives wistful with trailing “S”-es and dusky shading.

Deftly bookended by “It Only Happens When I Dance with You,” Amanda McBroom’s evocative “Dance” finds Winter focusing on an unseen lover. The number is low key, all the more heart-wrenching for her choice. “It’s Good to Be Alive” is infectiously, head- bobbingly happy.

A suggestive arrangement of the iconic “Let Yourself Go” is buoyed on dark currents conjuring a slow-motion Fred Astaire sequence. Shoulders swaying, Winter bites her lip, tilts back her head, closes her eyes. Pianist Tedd Firth slides into hot jazz mode, then circles back to an amble. Vocals exit with sass. A highlight.

Contemporary numbers include Steve Seick’s salty “Not That There’s Anything Wrong with That” as musicians add rousing affirmation, and Carol Hall’s sweet, funny “This Is My Birthday,” supported by charming, Mexicali rhythm. In both cases, Winter makes the songs her own. Expression is real and earthy, never over the top.

Less successful are “Where or When”—oddly exuberant rather than haunting, and a seriously up-tempo rendition of “I Enjoy Being a Girl” (with no time to savor) that relates to an intro about age rather than femininity.

This is a singer to whom one could listen and listen.

Musicianship is excellent all around: Firth (piano); Jered Egan (bass); Sean Harkness (guitar). Winter has gathered a top-notch, symbiotic group.

Susan returns to the Metropolitan Room October 7, November 4, & December 8.

Alix Cohen
Cabaret Scenes
September 21, 2014
www.cabaretscenes.org