Reclining on pillows at the foot of a grand piano, being serenaded by the ever impulsive yet soothing, honeyed voice of Grace McLean is one of the more perfect ways to spend a winter’s Sunday afternoon.
On Sunday, February 7th, for a piece aptly titled “Living Room Experience”, McLean had turned a black box theater into a space so warm and comfortable, complete with paper lanterns strewn across the floor and a floor lamp by the piano, that it was redolent of being in a friend’s living room. The show was part of an ongoing singer/songwriter series called Music with a View at the Flea Theater in Tribeca. The event is defined as a “lab-like space” that is “dedicated to nurturing new works and to the free exchange of ideas, thoughts and opinions between artists and the audience”.
McLean capitalized on this idea of a relationship with the audience by encouraging her attentive crowd to join her in breath exercises during her self-imposed “Intermission”, as well as asking them to close their eyes to let the images of a song titled “The Dream” wash over their imaginations. She also invited the eager young men and women to share a secret with their neighbor before launching into her “Secret Song” and the room momentarily erupted in whispers and giggles reminiscent of a child’s sleepover.
Her rapidly percussive songs, delivered with the utmost vocal control and perfect diction, were accompanied by Justin Goldner on bass and Hiroyuki Matsuura on percussion. The instrumentation of her music is subtle; a gentle background to her dynamic voice and clever, story-driven lyrics.
“I’m in love with my friend’s roommate/ I hope that he’s not gay/ Keep in mind it wouldn’t be the first time affections have wandered that way”
The series was the perfect forum for an artist like McLean who is an innately charming performer with sharp comic timing and an ease that makes her irresistible. One song flowed swiftly into the next, introduced by witty remarks and closed promptly with a simple ‘Thank you’. Her show left you longing to recreate those feelings of peace and bliss at home in your own living room. It would surely be much easier if Ms. McLean could be a permanent fixture next to the sofa.
Photo courtesy of artists' myspace page