NY Cabaret Review By Myra Chanin
Maxine Linehan is a fine singer with great pipes. She’s also extremely brave – brave enough to open her new show, Beautiful Songs, when she was fighting off a cold, and stalwart enough to inform her audience that the two glasses of brownish gold liquid on the piano from which she sipped were definitely not Jameson’s whiskey but Twining’s tea.
Maxine has charm, good looks and a Broadway quality voice and presence. I was also initially taken with Ryan Shirar’s arrangements, which supplied Maxine with sensuous, silky, classic, string quartet support. She really connects emotionally with an audience when she sings songs she really feels something about.
I had a problem with the concept she selected, Beautiful Songs, which Maxine described as songs she finds “beautiful, not merely pretty.” Unfortunately, it translated into 60 minutes of pretty much non-stop ballads, a few of them deservedly obscure. I love beautiful melodies and tender sentiments more than most, but even a romantic like me wants an occasional up-tempo, toe-tapping tune and clever lyrics, which were both supplied by I Think of You, which her composer/lyricist husband, Andrew Coss, wrote. Andrew is crafty a songwriter who describes his love for Maxine as the nucleus of his ability to survive the difficult everyday traumas of living in New York in an original, witty and touching way.
In the latter part of the program, Danny Boy expressed her love for her father and her native land. It was followed by End of the World, a song with which I was not familiar but the expressive tune and outstanding lyrics grabbed me immediately. I was also quite taken by her delicate encore, Never Never Land.
Ryan Shirar’s arrangements, violin, cello, flute, piano, so compelling at the start of the show, became conceptually and rhythmically redundant, and eventually vied with Maxine for control of the stage, almost turning her into the fifth member of a quintet. Also Maxine might rethink how she introduces each song, because her feelings about these songs are obviously not equal.
Her husband Andrew presented her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and, in the most caring and gentlemanly way, escorted Maxine to meet and greet her fans.
When I arrived home, I listened to her most recent CD, An American Journey, and was so happy I had bought it. Maxine is superb on songs like Sail Away, I’m a Stranger Here Myself and simply exquisite on Pure Imagination and In My Daughter’s Eyes. Outstanding, really artistic songs suit Maxine’s artistry best.
Beautiful Songs – Wednesday evenings thru Oct. 22nd, Metropolitan Room 212 206-0440