Club Review: Kati Neiheisel’s “Yesterday… Once More”

April 15, 2022 | By

Kati Neiheisel’s absolutely charming show, Yesterday…Once More, is a love letter to the Carpenters, the brother and sister duo from Southern California (born in Connecticut) who were known for Karen Carpenter’s unfailing, soothing contralto and a brand of pop—arranged, often written, and masterminded by brother Richard—that produced multiple Top 10 hits in the 1970s.

Kati Neiheisel (Photo: Eric Stephen Jacobs)

Neiheisel began the show with a nostalgic nod to car trips with her very large family (10 kids) during where the sounds of American Top 40 radio occupied them. It’s on the radio where she often heard the Carpenters. Going down memory lane with the singer, I felt joy rediscovering the popular duo in a tribute that was well constructed, well sung, and well played by musical director-pianist Gregory Toroian, with Skip Ward on bass, David Silliman on drums, and crafted beautifully by director Lina Koutrakos.

The opener, “Yesterday, Once More” (Richard Carpenter, John Bettis), was so perfect I had to check to see if the singers had written additional lyrics. But no, the original lyrics seemed to reflect her nostalgic introduction perfectly, as well as the tone of the show. 

Neiheisel included some of the commercial jingles we heard the Carpenters sing through the years (like Morton’s Potato Chips), and this device made the tribute even more entertaining. She pointed out that one of the Carpenters’ biggest hits, “We’ve Only Just Begun” (Roger Nichols, Paul Williams), began life as a jingle for a bank that Richard discovered late one night. 

There were many moments during Yesterday…Once More when I felt like I was listening to Karen Carpenter. Neiheisel captures Karen’s sweetness, and she captures her soulfulness as well. She successfully tackled a tough and interesting song, “All I Can Do” (Richard Carpenter, John Bettis) from The Carpenters’ first album, Offering. Tough, because it’s written in 5/4 time, and seems out of character for Karen as well as for Neiheisel, but that’s how versatile Karen was; her drumming on that early recording is top-notch, and Don Silliman did a spectacular job on this. Also, tough because there isn’t a moment to contemplate vocal placement in the arrangement which clips along—you just have to come out swinging. Neiheisel totally pulled it off. It was a much different moment than the other carefully considered performances. 

Toroian is a monster arranger and led the fabulous trio with panache. I’m not sure who pushed Neiheisel to venture subtly outside the standard pop sound, but kudos to that person. I feel like “we’ve only just begun” to see where Kati Neiheisel can go dipping her toes into some of the very jazzy licks in this show. It was great surprise to hear a cabaret artist sing outside the lines. The show was a terrific entertainment, full of gorgeous music and fun facts.

***

Presented at Pangea October 15, 30, November 16, December 5,  2021, and on March 26, 2022.

 

Category: News / Reviews / Commentary, Reviews

About the Author ()

Though now Betsyann Faiella is known in New York primarily as a publicist, she came to that profession from two previous careers that contributed to her love of promoting creative people: as a working singer and as a media producer. She made her cabaret debut at the legendary Reno Sweeney. She was the lead singer in a band with Lewis Friedman, the impresario of both Reno Sweeney and s.n.a.f.u. Later she performed in such other iconic venues as Birdland, Blue Note, the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, and Ronnie Scott's in London. She appeared in concert with jazz legends Hank Jones and Paul Smith and performed at arts centers and universities around the country.

Comments (1)

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  1. Thank you for the lovely review, Betsyann.
    Makes me want to see this show if I’m ever on the “right” coast at the right time:)