Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Monday, September 13, 2004

To Nellie McKay Friday, an enjoyable evening. At this point I feel like Ms. McKay and I go way back. She is, of course, as cute as a bug, and it was good to see just what sort of chops she had. Her music has reminded me of Blossom Dearie from the beginning, but I'd have to say that while Blossom gets over by being way, way more hip than just about anyone, Nellie gets over on enthusiasm. This almost describes the difference in their piano technique, too: Blossom obviously has a lot of Bud Powell and Bill Evans in her record collection; Nellie has a lot of Erroll Garner.

Because her lyrics employ some strong language, McKay gets compared to Eminem, which is simply so far off the mark it is worth mentioning solely because the comparison might prevent people who otherwise might enjoy what she does from finding out about her. She is not abashed at being polemical (one song-- one of about a half dozen new numbers that she performed-- is about Theresa Heinz Kerry: "I know she used to vote Republican/But so did Irene Dunn"); she has a persona that is a little like the crazy stalker girl, but she knows it's all an act, and lets us in on it with a wink. I was pleased to note that several of the songs that I thought were among the weaker on a strong album benifited from the simple piano and vocal approach, stripped down from the busier arrangements on the disk.

Worth seeing. And if you haven't picked up the CD yet, you should.

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