Sitting pretty somewhere between jazz and cabaret, Martha Lorin enjoys the casual swing of the former and the dramatic license of the latter. She's loosely structured her often affecting fourth album, Come Walk With Me (Southport), around a dedication to her daughter, who grew up fatherless after Lorin's husband was shot down in Vietnam. In the liner notes she writes that she chose the songs to illustrate the range of experiences she's had since his death--and that she tried to write the title track in her husband's voice, imagining it as a letter from a father to his child. The more curmudgeonly among us may balk at this programmatic conceit or squirm at Lorin's confessional intimacy and unabashed nostalgia, but her storytelling skills earn even such long-overdone numbers as Ivan Lins's "The Island" and Carol King's "You've Got a Friend" a fresh listen. Her plummy timbre retains something womanly and a little sad, even on bright tunes, and she allows her intonation to waver only when she wants to drive home an accent or curl a lyric. Her interpretations generally communicate the same mature smarts; the album's only glaring misstep is an earnest ballad rendition of South Pacific's "You Got to Be Carefully Taught," a song that needs its original urgent tempo and a dose of biting anger for its antiracist message to really make sense. Fortunately, she also includes two more of her own lyrics, set to music by New York pianist Frank Collett--tunes that rival the cabaret standards the Broadway stage once turned out in abundance. In fact, Lorin herself could pass for one of the glamorous, storm-tossed chanteuses of that golden era, hard-shelled women with tender hearts. Friday, November 10, 5 PM, Hotel Allegro, 171 W. Randolph; 312-236-1876. Saturday, November 11, 9 PM, Piano Man, 3801 N. Clark; 773-472-2956. Sunday, November 12, and Wednesday, November 15, 8 PM, Voltaire, 3441 N. Halsted; 773-281-9320. Monday, November 13, 9 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway; 773-878-5552.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Ian.