BWW CD Review: Melissa Errico Spectacularly Illuminates Film Noir with OUT OF THE DARK: THE FILM NOIR PROJECT

With her new album and show, Melissa Errico maintains her status as a cabaret great.

By: Feb. 18, 2022

BWW CD Review: Melissa Errico Spectacularly Illuminates Film Noir with OUT OF THE DARK: THE FILM NOIR PROJECT Theme albums can be a rather tricky undertaking sometimes... not for the musical artist - for the listener. Naturally, the artists have a wonderful time conceiving and curating and, then, recording their album of songs by The Carpenters, songs sung in Spanish, songs about winter, water, or bucking the system. If the artists are lucky, the collections they create rise to the top with ease. Remember the excellence of Barbra Streisand's albums that centered around the French language and classical music, respectively? Or maybe the John Pizzarelli tribute CD to The Beatles sticks out as a win? When considering an entire album of torch songs, though, one might ask oneself, "Does the CD come with a straight razor?" or perhaps an entire CD of lullabies might tend to run treacly... it all has to go on a case by case basis.

In the case of the new Melissa Errico album OUT OF THE DARK: THE FILM NOIR PROJECT, there is no question that the theme, the collection, the creation is, from start to finish, a winner.

Melissa Errico is one of the most prolific artists working in the cabaret and concert industry today, not only producing a series of different shows within each year, a new album every year or two, virtual concerts, and social media entries (all while working as an actor), she is a much-lauded contributor to the New York Times. And Melissa Errico loves her themes, as evidenced by her deep dives into Stephen Sondheim, Michel Legrand, and the French culture, so the release of a new theme project isn't only to be expected, it is to be celebrated.

For her theme, this go-round, Ms. Errico has chosen a type of music originating in an art form for which she holds a particular fascination, detailed in the liner notes: Film Noir. The film noir movement has been one of the most beloved and respected cinematic art forms of all time, yielding dramatic, emotional scores filled with lush arrangements and torchy tunes, and Ms. Errico brings all of those factors to every one of the seventeen tracks on Out of The Dark, from the marvelously melodramatic "With Every Breath I Take" to the teasingly brief yet supremely satisfying "Shadows and Light." Curating her content from a variety of sources that Errico breaks down for the listener in her liner notes, Melissa and her team have created an extraordinarily generous album lasting over seventy-five glorious minutes, and, if this listener might offer a modest suggestion: take the listening journey first. Don't call up the album on Spotify shuffle. Don't buy just one song on iTunes. Don't just preview the songs. Melissa Errico is a Mistress of Storytelling and she and her advisors (author Adam Gopnik and Musical Director Tedd Firth) have mapped out a storytelling path that is essentially enjoyed from start to finish, in real-time, visceral, emotional, and (at times) overwhelming. Don't cheat yourself of the experience by researching it, reading the notes, or listening as background music during another activity. Start the album out with Errico and co.'s "Angel Eyes" and float away on the smoky, velvet, whiskey-infused visuals created by Firth's arrangements and Errico's otherworldly vocals. Indeed, if you are a person who still smokes or still drinks, go ahead: light up, pour the scotch (use the Waterford or the Baccarat).

Observe, as the album progresses, the changing moods with each new tune, at times torchy (a mournful "Haunted Heart"), at times bright and hopeful (an uplifting "Written in the Stars"), and others simple and straightforward in the storytelling (a hypnotizing "On Vit, On Aime"). Melissa et al have gone to great lengths to present this seventeen-course feast of musical tale-weaving, with this writer finding, especially appealing, a powerfully sensual "The Bad and the Beautiful" and a mesmerizing "Amour, Amour" that transported my mind back in time to the years I spent living in Europe. It is also worth stating that, lo, these many years, any time (ANY time) that I have become aware that a singer was about to sing "The Man That Got Away" I audibly rolled my eyes and visibly sighed in frustration, and that, on this album, Ms. Errico has broken the curse by becoming the singer to make the legendary composition new, and completely her own, eliciting from this Garland devotee a smile of contented relief. The torch song to end all torch songs is the fourteenth track on the remarkable and intellectual song cycle, and as Errico ends her journey into the Nation of Noir, the listener can prepare to take up the CD booklet and dive into the liner notes, meticulously composed in Melissa's now-famous New York Times writing style, and discover the back story of the CD, the choices, the explorations, and the need that led this artist supreme - one of the greatest in the cabaret and concert industry - to create what many are sure to consider one of the best albums of 2022.

Melissa Errico OUT OF THE DARK: THE FILM NOIR PROJECT is available on the Ghostlight label and on Amazon, iTunes, Apple Music, and all other platforms.

Melissa Errico celebrates the release of OUT OF THE DARK: THE FILM NOIR PROJECT with a two-night concert at 54 Below. For information and tickets click HERE.


Visit the Melissa Errico website HERE.


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From This Author - Stephen Mosher

Stephen Mosher is the author of The Sweater Book (a collection of his photography featuring celebrated artists from the entertainment communities of New York, Los Angeles, and London), Lived In Crazy ... (read more about this author)



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