Karen Oberlin - Confound Me: Songs In Search Of Something - New York City Article
“Confound Me: Songs In Search Of Something”
The Triad (Stage 72)
158 West 72nd Street, 212-279-4200
Monday, June 11 & Wednesday, July 11
Stephen Holden, who until last March was the number one reason to keep reading The New York Times (and also my personal hero), told me that he thought that “Confound Me: Songs In Search Of Something,” the new show by the veteran cabaret singer Karen Oberlin, was her all-time greatest. High praise indeed, but he certainly gave me something to think about. Up to now, my all-time favorite Karen Oberlin show is probably "Birds Do It: Songs Inspired by the Natural World" (Metropolitan Room, October 2009), but then there’s "Heart and Soul: A Centenary Celebration of Frank Loesser" (Oak Room at the Algonquin, June 2010) and the original shows that made all of us love her to begin with, "Secret Love: A Tribute to Doris Day" (reprised at Birdland, April 2014), and "I'll Be Hard to Handle: Songs of Daring Dames” (revived at 54 Below, July 2012).
But to Mr. Holden’s point, the new show is especially worthy: this is the first time I can remember Ms. Oberlin doing what every cabaret singer seems to be doing these days, namely “taking us on a personal journey” - and thankfully she makes a point to let us know she’s not using that actual incredibly-overbaked phrase. (Gadzooks! Is it even possible to listen to even ten minutes of any NPR show ever without hearing it?) It’s a show of songs about searching for something, learning from experiences both good and bad, taking risks, and leaving comfort zones, culled from from familiar show tunes as well as more recent generations of singer-songwriters. The title song, “Confound Me,” by her husband, David Hajdu, and pianist Renee Rosnes, perfectly captures the show’s mood of journeys both within and without: “Defy me, Change my mind / Stop halfway and make me wonder.” The voyage is easily more important than the destination, and, all told, it’s a trip well worth taking.
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.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)