At The Metropolitan Room
Reviewed by David Roberts and Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited
If you were around during the folk-rock evolution or have any interest in this amazing period in musical history, an evening with Lauren Fox at The Metropolitan Room is mandatory. Not only is her pure and unique tonal quality reminiscent of some of the great talents of that time but also her knowledge of the artists living in Laural Canyon, the epicenter of this incredible musical eruption, is informative, interesting and perfectly integrated into this well-structured show.
Ms. Fox is accompanied by Ritt Henn on Bass, Peter Calo on guitar and musical director Jon Weber on piano and keyboard. These four musicians do not play the music; they become the music and successfully transfer the audience to another time and place. For some it might be a fond memory. For others a pleasurable experience to ponder, for during this period poetry was put to music and there is much to discover in Lauren Fox’s renditions of this genre. Ms. Fox is calm, confident and thoughtful as she captures the essence of an era gone by, filled with turmoil and free love. She unequivocally understands the lyric and carefully translates the meaning with intelligent phrasing and vocal prowess. Her dreamlike stare pierces time as her voice interprets the energy and angst of a bygone music revolution. There are many vocalists who cover folk-rock but Ms. Fox and her band have bold interpretations and they bond in a cohesive unit to deliver a respectful homage of superb quality.
Lauren Fox’s performance of Jackson Browne’s 1971 “A Child in These Hills” gives haunting relevance to the contemporary search for acceptance and meaning, especially for those who have not found peace “in the houses of their fathers.” Although Neil Young’s 1970 “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” was born after his separation from Joni Mitchell, the lyrics of the song connect to every broken heart despite age, sex, or sexual status. Lauren Fox’s clear tones and fresh styling of Carole King’s “Way Over Yonder” and “You’ve Got A Friend” give hope to those who need to call and know that someone will be there to “brighten even [ones] darkest night.”
When Ms. Fox sings a lyric from The Eagles’ hit “Take It Easy,” the audience glows with instant recognition: “Got a world of trouble on my mind/Lookin’ for a lover/Who won’t blow my cover.” Just a glance from Lauren Fox and the audience is given permission to connect to every song she shares in “Canyon Folkies: Over the Hills and Under the Covers.” The magic of her voice and the skill of her performance allow these songs from the late 1960’s and 1970’s to reach a broad and appreciative new audience.
Against the backdrop of a projected psychedelic image, Lauren Fox concludes “Canyon Folkies” with exceptionally relevant songs by Jim Morrison and Jackson Browne: “The End” (1966) and “Before the Deluge (1974). The astute of every generation seem to understand that “things are falling apart and the center is not holding” (William Butler Yeats). Ms. Fox plaintively asks “The blue bus is calling us
The blue bus is calling us/Driver, where you taking us? And we wonder where we are headed in the next four years. She carefully leads the audience down a challenging path when she breathes renewed life into Jackson Browne’s “Before the Deluge:” where exactly are we headed as a nation and a culture. We, like Browne, are deeply concerned about “the way the earth was abused/By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power.”
We sing silently with Lauren Fox as she empowers us to have hope for the future: “Now let the music keep our spirits high/And let the buildings keep our children dry/Let creation reveal its secrets by and by/By and by–/When the light that’s lost within us reaches the sky.”
Do not waste any time planning to see this performance, simply because you will certainly want to return for more before this engaging performance ends on January 24, 2013.