SUSAN WINTER/LOVE ROLLS ON

If you happened to miss the wonderful Susan Winter’s lovely show Love Rolls On last year at the Metropolitan Room, you’re in luck! She has just released a live cd of that engagement, and it’s as if you are there for an extremely enjoyable, heartfelt and charming evening of cabaret. Ms. Winter was pursuing a theatrical career before she took time off to have a family and work for the New York Board of Education, but boy is she back with a vengeance!

In just the past three years, she has produced three original shows, been nominated for a MAC Award and won the 2009 Bistro Award for best female vocalist. This centerpiece of Love Rolls On is Ms. Winter’s touching story of her mother and father’s romance and how she got an inside view of it by discovering the letters that they had written to each other while just newly married, and yet separated by the military.

Several of the songs touch on this (“All My Tomorrows,” “Isn’t It A Pity,” “Only You,” and how finding these letters strengthened her relationship with her father after her mother’s passing.  Most of the songs are familiar (“Anyplace I Hang My Hat Is Home,” “Small World,” “Just In Time,”, “You’ll See”), and yet take on a new life as woven into the story (the hilariously deadpan “Mr. Monotony” with an equally hilarious lead-in about her mother’s bridge games), with exquisite arrangements and  in Ms. Winter’s  infectious joy at being back doing what she  loves, singing! (“Lucky To Be Me,” “I’ve Got The World on A String”). But, we’re the one’s who should consider ourselves lucky.

Ms. Winter has a gorgeous, rich, warm voice and a persona to match, that makes you feel instantly at home and comfortable. It’s like spending an evening with a dear friend who just happens to be able to sing her head off! All of these things that were so apparent in the live show have been perfectly captured on this recording, with just the right amount of the patter included to illuminate the song  choices. Although, even without any explanation, it’s a terrific collection of songs sung in Ms. Winter’s appealing, laid-back, somewhat jazz-tinged style that grows even more enjoyable with each listen. And I simply must mention the  charming duet she shares with Geoff Stoner (and his ukelele!) on “I Love The Way You’re Breaking My Heart.”  Why, it’s terribly, terribly, terribly irresistible! And so is this album.

 

thumb_Susan-CD-Love-Rolls-OnReleased just a few weeks ago, Susan Winter's debut album is a live recording of her classy, engaging cabaret show at New York's Metropolitan Room. That show won her the Bistro Award and she's got a winning, warm, wise way about her that comes through on disc. Here's someone who can get inside a lyric because she understands it, loves it and sounds like she has lived it or is at least very comfortable in its skin. It all seems very natural, whether she's radiating optimism with "Lucky to Be Me" from On the Town or quietly in awe of a man being in love with her in "It Amazes Me," the gem by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh. With an exciting, vibrant voice that can belt without getting harsh, snuggle up to a love song without slipping into mushy sentimentality, the Winter way is a versatile one. Also possessing a particularly attractive vibrato that takes in emotion and lets it linger in the air, she has a lot going for her.

Susan's set list consists mainly of the Great American Songbook. There's Gypsy's "Small World" done simply and effectively and a touching but very down-to-earth re-framing of the Gershwins "Isn't a Pity" to show how she re-connected with her father when she was well into adulthood. In her patter, she talks about her parents' courtship and marriage, with appropriate songs and anecdotes, including their own letters, to crystallize key moments, romantic and amusing. That's the centerpiece—or more precisely, heart—of the act. Heart is what Susan Winter shows plenty of, as well as a savvy way of getting to the heart of a song. She communicates. And she is at her very best with "You'll See" by Carroll Coates, perfectly nailing great lines encouraging a potential lover to open up, like "Come on, give in/ Surrender and win/ You haven't far to fall." Notably, she's at ease with post-Golden Age material, too, like Dave Frishberg's "Love Rolls On" and "I Can't Be New" by Susan Werner and Jane Paul: cool stuff. All she needs to complete this pretty picture and pretty marvelous album are a couple of sensitive and super-skilled musicians, and she's got 'em: bassist Tom Hubbard and Rick Jensen, who is the simpatico pianist, arranger and her co-producer. They co-produce sparks here ... and a lot of intelligent, satisfying music.