Love and Let Love: New Collaborations with Old Friends was performed by Michele Brourman at the Crazy Coqs, London.
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
After two weeks of caressing the ivories while her great pal Amanda McBroom took centrestage, the pocket rocket of American cabaret, “4ft 11 on a good day” Michele Brourman, finally got her own show at the Crazy Coqs and, even though only a one-nighter, the wait was well worth it.
This little lady, Pittsburgh-reared but now a Los Angeles resident, is a grade-one multi-talent in her own right, as singer, songwriter and pianist, with a serious exterior masking a mischievous sense of humour that comes out not only in her songs but in her entertaining linking material.
It is only when seen on her own that you realise the power, purity and sensitivity of the voice, its strength all the more surprising from one so petite, all but hidden from view on her piano stool.
As a pianist, she is, for me, in a class of her own, the best, the most fluent, the richest-sounding to play at the Piccadilly nightspot during the course of the year.
And from a heaped cabinet of musical gems penned with a variety of colleagues, there has always been one, ‘My Favorite Year’, that stands out as the most perfect love song, reflecting on the one big passion, the one magical year of a past fondly if regretfully remembered.
Written with her then collaborator Karen Gottlieb, as the title song for a 1982 Peter O’Toole movie at a day’s notice – “we guessed we weren’t first choice!” – but surprisingly never used, consolation came later through recordings by Michael Feinstein, Cleo Laine and McBroom herself, and on the TV soap Santa Barbara soundtrack.
The title of the evening, Love and Let Love: New Collaborations with Old Friends, celebrated Brourman’s ties with lyricists Gottlieb, McBroom, her sister Robin Brourman Munson and, most recently, famed singer-songwriter Ann Hampton Callaway.
The witty, sarcastic songs with McBroom, ‘Only Old Once’, ‘Help Thanks Wow’’ and ‘One of Those Days’ (her great friend joined her on stage for the last one) sound sharp and contemporary while the picturesque encore ‘London in the Rain’, also with McBroom’s words, is a beauty, written especially with this visit in mind.
Written with sister Robin, ‘The Price of Love’ speaks lovingly of the heartache involved in taking on pets and having to part with them, and there is a most moving song in Spanish, ‘No Es Mi Nino’, about the El Salvador nanny who hadn’t seen her own children for 11 years because she needed to go abroad for work but still gave her love unstintingly to Brourman’s.
The new collaboration with Callaway for ‘Love’s Dance’, where they flipped roles – Brourman writing the lyrics for a change – works less well and is a bit too syrupy for my taste but their catchy, anthemic ‘Love and Let Love’ could easily become a cabaret standard in years to come.
An evening full of delights and it is only a shame that Brourman’s work is so little known over here. What’s that about best things coming in small packages?
Readers may also be interested in:
Up Close and Personal – Amanda McBroom – Crazy Coqs – Review