A captivating singer on the rise, Maxine Linehan has a gorgeous voice and equally important, she is especially skillful at interpreting songs that she astutely chooses for her shows. In her latest, Wednesday nights Oct. 1, 8, 15 and 22, 2014, at the Metropolitan Room, the title is “Maxine Linehan: Beautiful Songs,” and she has selected an array of numbers that she regards as especially beautiful. Appearing in a black shoulder strap gown and looking beautiful herself, she pours her voice and her heart into every one of her choices.
That’s a special quality of hers. Having seen her on other occasions, I find it apparent that she is appealingly genuine in her succinct explanatory introductions that convey her deep love of singing and the pleasure she gets from giving an audiences pleasure by sharing her favorites. The mere concept of putting together songs simply because she finds beauty in them is a marked departure from singers who aim to be trendy.
Her new show is filled with examples. Take “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” music and lyrics by Buck Ram, Jerome Kern and Otto A. Harbach. After first noting that it was originally played in march tempo before the presentation was changed, Linehan proceeded to give one of the most exquisite, tender renditions that I have heard. This was after she had shown off her superb voice with “Walk Through the World,” music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, and “Love Can’t Happen,” music and lyrics by Maury Yeston.
Another of her favorites is “I Love Paris,” music and lyrics by Cole Porter. It is a song we have heard repeatedly through the years, and again, she poured so much feeling into her interpretation that both music and lyrics seemed freshly lovely.
Linehan refers to her having grown up in Ireland, which she notes wasn’t the greatest welcoming experience for a girl with freckles and red hair. But she noted during her opening last night (October 1) that she returns often. She finds new significance in the popular “Danny Boy,” music and lyrics by Frederic Weatherly, which has come to mean much to her personally.
Her husband, composer Andrew Koss, was in the audience, and she took pride in singing a song that he wrote especially for her, “I Think of You,” another sung with depth of feeling.
For this type of program, exactly the right delicate composition of musicians accompanied her--Joseph Brent on violin, mandolin and guitar; Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf on cello, Justin Vance on reeds, and Ryan Shirar, her music director, at the piano. The creator and director of her show is Scott Siegel.
Other songs that Linehan sang included, “There Won’t Be Trumpets,” “A Quiet Thing,” “L’hyme à l’amour,” “Sway,” “God Only Knows,” “What’ll I do?,” “One” and “The End of the World.” For an encore she transported us to “Never Never Land.”
Linehan’s background includes experience acting in the theater in New York and on tour. She has a new album out—“Maxine Linehan: An American Journey.” “Beautiful Songs” performances are at the Metropolitan Roon, 34 West 22nd Street. Phone: 212-206-0440. Reviewed October 2, 2014.