Rita Wilson @ The Cafe Carlyle - Will's New York Nite Life
Rita Wilson @ The Cafe Carlyle
The Café Carlyle
35 E 76th Street, (212) 744-1600
Through Saturday (October 21)
“We all need stories,” singer-actress-songwriter (and in other guises, producer, philanthropist, and social activist) tells us at the start of her latest run at the Carlyle. For Ms. Wilson, the daughter of immigrants, those stories take the form of songs that she heard on the radio in the late 1960s and early ‘70s: rock, pop, folk, and country. Her show consists entirely (with one notable exception early on) of originals written more or less in these various period subgenres. normally, both of those factors that might strain the boundaries of what customarily transpires in an intimate supper club space like the Carlyle, but Ms. Wilson works. Her personality is consistently upbeat and engaging, and she narrates the show with well-prepared patter that expertly guides us from one song to another. Near the start, she takes us through two classic country-pop “talking” story songs of the 1960s, “Ode to Billie Joe” and “Harper Valley PTA,” and uses her take on them to springboard into her own material. Many of her numbers (“Big City Small Town Girl”), have an autobiographical angle to them, but they all present different aspects of her story and personality: on “New Girl,” inspired by a friend’s marriage, she’s shattered and humbled, but on “You’re Not the Boss of Me,” she’s empowered and defiant. Some of these songs are on her 2016 album, Rita Wilson, and while her voice has a kind of studio-style perfection on that, I think most listeners would prefer the slightly rough (as she admitted) but infinitely more engaged performances that she gives in front of actual audiences (as well as the witty banter, like “Encore - that’s French for ‘more applause for me.’”), so much so that it would make sense for her to consider recording her next album live at the Carlyle. I’d buy it.
photo: David Andrako
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL & VANITY FAIR, and reviews current shows for THE OBSERVER and THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of eight 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)