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BWW CD Review: Kim David Smith Live At Joe's Pub Captures Perfectly The Artist's Uniqueness

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BWW CD Review: Kim David Smith Live At Joe's Pub Captures Perfectly The Artist's Uniqueness

A person listening to the CD Kim David Smith Live At Joe's Pub is almost certain to feel jealousy... unless they were at the show and got to see Mr. Smith live. If, however, a person that is listening to this new release has never seen Kim David Smith perform live, then, yeah, they are going to feel jealous of the people who have - and that is simply a given, like the sun rising in the east, or salty snacks making you thirsty. Like those things, though, it is perfectly natural, and only lasts a moment before returning the listener to their previous state of bliss. That is, after all, what this CD is - absolute, musical, show business entertainment, artistic bliss.

There are those performers whose hype follows them; more accurately, it precedes them: Kim David Smith is one of those entertainers. For a while now, the buzz about Kim David Smith has been growing, like a subway train rumbling into the station. It has been impossible to not hear it, at times it has been impossible to ignore it, and that can sometimes hurt an artist (or a TV show, play, movie, book... you get the idea) but the happy news is that this live recording simply validates the reputation and respect Smith has been earning with his work these last few years. In simplest, most straight-forward parlance: the CD is outstanding. In fact, with material and talent this good, it's a wonder why it took so long for Smith to release an album of his nightclub work (there is a 4 track EP, The Tease), but at least he has finally done it - now fans, and would-be fans can take this trip with him any time they want, a good thing, because no matter how great Youtube is, nothing can ever really take the place of turning on a live recording and going on the ride from start to finish, which is the best way to enjoy Live At Joe's Pub.

Kim David Smith Live At Joe's Pub is a seamlessly curated sample of Smith's cabaret work over the last decade, providing listeners with a little Dietrich, a little Minogue, a lot of the Weimar Kabarett for which KDS is known, with nods to other facets of Smith, like composers Kurt Weill and Friedrich Hollaender... even music from Smith's early dance recordings turns up in the show. Mind, one would need to really know the music of the original artists in order to spot the Kylie from the Kurt and the Weimar from the West Village because Mr. Smith and his impeccably matched musical director Tracy Stark (doing some of her best work to date) have worked with each piece of music and the arc of the show so that everything flows together as flawless expression of the various parts of Kim David Smith, the artist. No arrangement feels forced or out of place, even when the song originates from the 1960's and the legacy of The Supremes. Each new door that Kim David Smith opens on his trajectory, and into his psyche, is a waiting surprise, comforting in its consistency with what one knows of Smith, simply through observation, yet exciting, as it threatens to shatter that which one may already know of the compositions being presented. Always with a flirtatious manner and authentic honesty, Smith toys with the audience, leaving them laughing at his jokes, turned on by his boldness, and besotted by his originality. It's a lovely lethal combination that reaches all the way from the blue-imbued seats at Joe's Pub through the speakers of a device and into the ears, heart, and imaginations of the listeners enjoying the disc, wherever they may be at the time.

A master of the theatrical, Kim David Smith manages to milk every moment for the dramatic, which should not be confused with being dramatic - contrarily, Mr. Smith is quite funny and rather cheeky, but also filled with tenderness and pathos; what makes his artistic choices so interesting is the discovery of where these qualities emerge, especially when balanced with the requisite sturm and drang required when taking on Lotte Lenya or re-imagining Liza Minnelli (though, in truth, Smith spends much of his artistic existence re-imagining the works of famed artists). With the emotion wheel thoroughly exposing his vast array of capabilities as a musical storyteller, Mr. Smith succeeds from start to finish, though this writer will admit to taking particular interest in the songs performed in German. Smith's understanding of the language and execution of the accent are beyond reproach, and every word, every note of the tunes performed in that tongue are special treats, even to those who don't speak German, part of what makes these cuts on the CD so special, and singling out specific songs in this album to call special is, indeed, a Solomon's Choice.

It can have escaped no reader's attention that no mention has been made of the titles of any of the songs Mr. Smith performs on his CD. The song titles aren't important; what matters is the message Smith is presenting, the mood he is provided, and the art he is producing. In a defiantly in-your-face mission statement, KDS is taking that which he loves, bringing it all together in one gloriously respectful package, and celebrating Weimar, Dietrich, Kabarett, and being queer, all the while converting people to Kylie, always with flair... even if only through the sound of a CD... that is, until there is a chance to see him in action in a live show, which everyone will be wanting to do.


Kim David Smith Live At Joe's Pub is a 2020 release on the Kim David Smith label. The CD (which features Skip Ward on bass) is available on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, and the Kim David Smith website HERE


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From This Author Stephen Mosher