Duncan Sheik @ The Cafe Carlyle - New York City Article

Duncan Sheik @ The Cafe Carlyle

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Duncan Sheik @ The Cafe Carlyle

Oct 5, 2017

For those Broadway-centric attendees - and Carlyle regulars - the debut of Duncan Sheik at the Cafe Carlyle contains a lot of surprises. Most of us know him through the two shows of his that have thus far made it to Broadway, the Tony-winning Spring Awakening (2006) and American Psycho (2016). The first is about teen anguish (and German teen anguish at that), although it has many gentler moments; the second, well, it’s about American psychos, and uses some very challenging forms of avant-rock to tell its highly-disturbing story (the logo for the show was a set of headphones dripping with blood). However, in person in the intimate space of the Carlyle, much of Mr. Sheik’s music is unexpectedly romantic - and that applies both to his “singer-songwriter” material, those songs he wrote for his eight solo albums (thus far). “Circling” is a compelling, thoughtful ballad, even more so in person than on his latest album, the 2015 Legerdemain. Overall, he and his trio at the Carlyle (with Jason Hart, keyboards, and Doug Yowell, drums), create a lovely minimalist vibe throughout the evening, putting one in mind of film score composers like Carter Burwell. For Broadway buffs, the highlights were the songs like “Mama Who Bore Me,” from Spring Awakening, done as a duo with Kathryn Gallagher. Yet for a goodly portion of the crowd, the song that they came to hear was Mr. Sheik’s biggest pop hit, the 1996 “Barely Breathing,” which served as a perfect encore and closer.

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Author: Will Friedwald
Photography by: STEPHEN SOROKOFF

Author: Will Friedwald

Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.

New Books:

THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP VOCAL ALBUMS (Pantheon Books / Random House, November 2017)