CD Review “Robbie Rozelle’s “Songs From Inside My Locker”

September 7, 2020 | By | 2 Comments

Robbie Rozelle’s new album, Songs From Inside My Locker, captures his more recent show at Feinstein’s/54 Below.  While there are some good ideas and a few good numbers to be heard, the singing rarely rises above that of a decent piano bar performance and can’t sustain the length of the recording.  

As with most new cabaret performers, there is too much crudity and not enough wit in the patter.  It is not the most inviting nor the most witty opening to say “Let’s just do this sh*t…” and, yet, there it is leading into his second number, “If I Only Had a Brain” (Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg).  On this song,  his sweet, unforced delivery is somewhat undone by sustained notes that tend to get shaky rather than assured.  This happens throughout the show.  On a villain medley of “Little Girls” (Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin from Annie) and “Captain Hook’s Tango” (Jule Styne, Adolph Green, Betty Comden from Peter Pan), his weak phrasing and weaker accent lose laughs throughout. 

In a “My two dads…” section dedicated to Charles Nelson Reilly and Paul Lynde, a medley of their signature songs is riddled with pitch and time problems.  Broadway’s Bonnie Milligan and Maya Days join Rozelle for Aida’s “A Step Too Far” (Elton John, Tim Rice), but when he tries to join in on their diva belting the result is disastrous. 

As the show swings into its finish, things improve considerably.  The decibel level lowers, the commitment to the lyric and the personal storytelling increase.  If he actually accepted his vocal limitations and picked material and arrangements accordingly, he’d have the potential of a much more successful performance.  William Finn’s “I Have Found” is thoughtful, understated, and moving.  This newfound delivery continues in an eleven o’clock medley of “Tomorrow” (Strouse, Charnin from Annie) and The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” (George Harrison).  Unfortunately, the final two numbers are back to being forced and too big for him, especially “Jam Tomorrow” (Steve Allen), a tribute to Carol Channing that includes an unfortunate impression of the leading lady.  

The audience on the recording seems to respond to the show more favorably than I, so perhaps Robbie Rozelle comes across better live than on recording.  But on its own merits, the album is disappointing.

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About the Author ()

Gerry Geddes has conceived and directed a number of musical revues—including the Bistro- and MAC Award-winning "Monday in the Dark with George" and "Put On Your Saturday Suit" – Words & Music by Jimmy Webb—and directed many cabaret artists, among them André De Shields, Helen Baldassare, Darius de Haas, and drag artist Julia Van Cartier. He directed "The David Drumgold Variety Show" monthly at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, and has produced a number of recordings, including two Bistro-winning CDs. He's taught vocal performance at The New School, NYU, and London's Goldsmith's College, and continues to conduct private workshops and master classes. As a writer and critic, he has covered New York's performing arts scene for over 40 years in both local and national publications; his lyrics have been sung by cabaret and recording artists. Up until the pandemic, Gerry was an artist in residence at Pangea, presenting a monthly variety show called "Fabulous First Fridays."

Comments (2)

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  1. Avatar Ian Gude says:

    About as untruthful and cruel as a review can get.

  2. Avatar Amber says:

    Complete disagree.

    this is just a cruel and pointed review.

    There is a difference between writing a well written and educated review and just being plain cruel and vindictive.

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