Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Alice Ripley at the Metropolitan Room

Stars are generally not low-key people. From Bette Davis to Patti LuPone they are often mannered, fascinating, and almost painfully distinct. They are never generic. Love 'em or hate 'em, you can't ignore them.

As she proved once again at the Metropolitan Room, Alice Ripley is a star. Some of her songs were better than others; her voice was occasionally raspy and/or flat; and some of her interpretations could have used a little more subtlety. Okay.

Meanwhile, she was compelling, passionate, and occasionally quite moving.

Ripley sang some of her songs solo and some with her band , along with Nick Cearley on backup. Her solo songs were raw; her songs with the band were smoother. Her voice was perfectly complemented by Cearley's which shared much of her tone but none of its roughness. The set included songs from Tommy, Rocky Horror, and Sideshow. Ripley mentioned that the latter was added because Bill Russell, the Sideshow lyricist, was in the audience. It was a highly emotional version of "Who Will Love Me as I Am," accompanied only by Ripley herself on guitar.

Mostly she sang her own songs. My favorite was her latest single, "Beautiful Eyes," a bluesy piece about which Ripley said on, "The lyrics are mysterious, but one thing’s for sure: it sounds like a really fun party.”  It does indeed. (The video is here.)

However, the "mysteriousness" of her lyrics in "Beautiful Eyes" and her other songs is disappointing. While she can turn a phrase, her songs are often unfocused, and some of her rhymes seem to exist only because they rhyme. An example of the mixed quality of her lyrics occurs in "When I'm Olde," which is an entertaining anthem that is hurt by the randomness of some of its phrases (I couldn't find the lyrics online, so I don't have examples to share).

Overall, however, Ripley delivered. The woman is a star, after all.

(press ticket, center)

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