Reprint from Baltimore City Paper 11-22-2000 page 43
By Eileen Murphy
If you like Joyce J. Scott, you'll love the five-song CD Try Me (Private Sector Productions). Lorraine L. Whittlesey wrote the album's lyrics and music, but the attitude is all Scott.
Although better known for her visual art--she was the subject of a major Baltimore Museum of Art retrospective earlier this year --Scott has long performed in cabaret-style shows. (During the 1980s, she and Kay Lawal performed their satirical performance piece Women of Substance for audiences around the world.) Scott doesn't give concerts per se; with a microphone in front of her, she is as much comic actress as singer.
Try Me functions as a cabaret show on disc, one that finds Scott in good humor and even better voice. She has a wonderful vocal range--she digs deep and finds some Shirley Bassey-style moments, then soars into the stratosphere and grabs hold of a few dangerously high notes. The CD has everything you'd expect from a Scott performance--including scene-setting asides, high drama, and giggly moments--minus the visuals. She belts, she whispers, she vamps and struts. It's such a great time that you'd swear you could see her tossing her scarf around and draping herself across the piano.
Whittlesey's songs and minimal accompaniment reinforce the piano-bar atmosphere. Fans of Scott's politically driven visual work may be surprised by the aloof and sophisticated tunes here, which deal mostly with love relationships. "The Gallery" showcases Scott at her feather boa-ed best as she swoons over love amid an art opening's cheese and white wine. In "This Way," she tones it down a bit and settles for verbally wagging her finger in the face of a lover who will not stop playing games.
Try Me clocks in at 28 minutes, a wee bit short of the time you'd need to down the martinis this CD inspires. That's OK--just hit play again. It's as much fun the second time around. (Private Sector: P.O. Box 5684, Baltimore, MD 21210; www.private-sector.com) (Eileen Murphy)