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BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below

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The singer-songwriter Carmen Cusack has been brought into the light, and how she shines.

BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below Carmen Cusack is a great storyteller. She has built a successful career on the stage out of slipping into the skin of a character someone else has created, speaking lines someone else has written, singing songs someone else has composed and communicating to her audiences everything required to tell that character's story. All the while that Ms. Cusack has been masterfully telling these peoples' stories, she has been writing stories of her own, stories that, during her engaging opening monologue last night at 54 Below, she confessed she has, previously, been scared to share with others. Now, post-pandemic, she is no longer afraid, and that is what BARING IT ALL is all about.

CBWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below armen Cusack is a singer-songwriter. Correction: Carmen Cusack is a damn fine singer-songwriter. With her decision to create an entire evening of her original compositions, Ms. Cusack has announced herself to the world as a singer-songwriter and taken a step into a broader artistic existence, and a greater consciousness as a person. Sharing these personally informed and created works of art will become a rewarding and eye-opening adventure for the great actress, the fans she already has, and the ones she will acquire. Carmen Cusack has just unleashed upon herself and the world the power of telling your own story.

BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below

BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below After watching Cusack's show last night, this writer left the Feinstein's basement and floated home in the autumnal air, a peaceful smile beaming at all who passed. Well, there was a moment of unhappiness at the realization that, this being all-new material, there was no album for sale at the merch table; there is, however, every chance that the performance was recorded or filmed, which would be a blessing because the songs performed by Cusack were, each and every one of them, winners. That, by the way, does not happen at every show of all-new material - this show is a unicorn. Inspired by her mother, her husband, her childhood years, her colleagues at Flying Over Sunset, and any number of other people and life events, Ms. Cusack manages to avoid applying to her magnificent lyrics any music that fits into a specific genre. Anyone with a wide-ranging musical taste will be able to clock influences from the worlds of country, blues, gospel, rockabilly, rock & roll, and even some melodies reminiscent of Irish folk music. Naturally, this makes it difficult to place Cusack into any kind of category: is she like Joni Mitchell or Carly Simon? Dolly Parton or Sheryl Crow? Is that a little Janis Joplin influence heard in that one song? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Whatever Carmen Cusack's personal listening tastes are in real life, her composition style is a significant spectrum of sounds and sonnets, grounded in emotion and the earth, rich with poetry but matter-of-fact, optimistic and realistic, poignant and intelligent. And with Cusack herself in the storyteller's seat, the audience journey is at an optimal experience level.

BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below

BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below Carmen Cusack has one of the most astonishing (and enjoyable) vocal instruments on the scene - she is able to sing anything, a fact tangibly proven in these ninety minutes, and while a person could listen to her sing anything, every person MUST hear her sing these particular songs. Fans would be advised to not wait for the album, to see her sing these songs live, in order to benefit from keyed-up rock and roll performances and laid-back ballads, all fused together through circuitous conversation that is captivating and lighthearted, always honest, and usually amusing, though this writer would like to offer that it is a mistake to break up the storytelling in the song "Sorry" by introducing pianist Rodney Busch during his solo. Watching her concert, one cannot help but think that the singer-songwriter will take a front seat while the actress cools her heels for a bit until Ms. Cusack finds the line to walk that will allow her to balance the nurturing of both sides of her artistic aesthetic, until she becomes one of those people like Elizabeth McGovern or Zooey Deschanel who is famous for their acting but who tours with their rock band, much to the surprise of people who can't picture Lady Cora or Jess Day singing in a band. When that day happens and Carmen Cusack is doing double-duty as a star of the Broadway and the concert stages, she will have reached the ultimate level in her artistry, and she will have earned it, the old-fashioned way: through excessive skill, an abundance of talent, hard work, and originality.

BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below

This writer's advice: see Carmen Cusack now in the intimate living room atmosphere of 54 Below. Don't risk having to wait a minute longer than you have to; she will, soon, open FLYING OVER SUNSET, and there's no telling when she and her music will back on the stages of the small venues. Don't miss this chance to get in on the ground floor and to be one of the first people who will, later, say that they were there at the beginning of a special singer-songwriter's career.

The BARING IT ALL band is Rodney Bush on piano, Jason DiMatteo on bass, Musical Director Joe Jung on guitar, Marta Bagratuni on cello, and John Bollinger on drums.

Carmen Cusack BARING IT ALL plays Feinstein's/54 Befow October 24th at 7 pm. For information and tickets visit the 54 Below website HERE.

Carmen Cusack has a website HERE.

Carmen Cusack gets a four out of five microphones rating for the occasional use of a lyric sheet, tablet, or music stand.

BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below

BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below

BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below

BWW Review: Carmen Cusack is Breathtakingly, Beautifully, Brilliantly BARING IT ALL at 54 Below

Photos by Stephen Mosher


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