New Music: Betty Buckley ‘Story Songs’
By Randy Slovacek
The Randy Report
April 7, 2017
Tony Award-winner Betty Buckley (Cats, Mystery of Edwin Drood, Triumph of Love, Sunset Boulevard), who recently starred in M. Night Shyamalan’s box office hit film Split, releases her latest recording today, the two-CD Story Songs.
Yes, kids – Broadway star, movie star, recording star… she does it all…
The release is a live recording of Buckley’s acclaimed cabaret show of the same name. The song cycle includes tunes by Jason Robert Brown, Joni Mitchell, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Leonard Cohen, and more.
Reviewing the show last fall, the New York Times called the event “arguably the strongest cabaret of her career.”
“Ms. Buckley belongs to a small circle of nightclub singers who are truth-tellers. Riding the crest of acclaim she received for her portrayal of “Big Edie” in a Los Angeles production of the musical “Grey Gardens,” Ms. Buckley, her voice in excellent shape, gave everything she sang the shape and depth of a personal confession.”
Buckley is in top form, bringing to bear her full, formidable gifts. The voice, that has brought Carnegie Hall audiences to their feet, is vibrant and strong. And not a comma goes overlooked in her rich readings of these character-driven songs.
Christian Jacob, Buckley’s longtime arranger and music director, delivers a collection of jazz-tinged musical landscapes that perfectly align with the actress/singer’s emotionally bare and yet expansive performances.
The album is a fine follow-up to her 2014 collaboration with T Bone Burnett, Ghostlight.
In that the album captures an carefully constructed evening of song and storytelling, I’m loath to point to specific songs. But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention her poignant “Don’t Give Up;” the rich, knowing melancholy of “Both Sides Now;” and Buckley’s “been there, done that” depth of survivorship in the ultimate showbiz anthem, “I’m Still Here.”