By Tom Alvarez, Indianapolis Performing Arts Examiner
May 14, 2014
Singer-songwriter and pianist Spencer Day, who made his Indy debut at the Cabaret at the Columbia ClubFriday for the first of a two night engagement, is simply not an entertainer who can be easily categorized. Day, who is comfortable performing any genre of music, be it classic jazz, blues, rock or folk music, demonstrated his versatility while accompanied by guitarist and vocalist John Storie.
Day’s show which was titled “Lovefool,” consisted of selections from the American Songbook, contemporary songs and some of his original tunes, followed a theme, suggested by the show’s title. Singing songs primarily about love, Day sought to reexamine the nature of an emotion that is the most common inspiration for songwriters and explore how even love songs about heartbreak can help us feel catharsis and turn something painful into something healing.
Throughout his show, Day shared details such as his Mormon upbringing, his coming into self-awareness as a result of a traumatic breakup and other personal revelations that spoke to his authenticity and willingness to express himself through his original music. For this writer, it was Day’s own very thoughtful songs that revealed both his talent as a songwriter and an individual who is not afraid to be vulnerable and express his innermost feelings. It’s no wonder his 5 albums have been met with critical acclaim.
“Chateau Marmont,” one of Day’s original songs, which he performed, is about a ghost that roams the legendary West Hollywood hotel. With its French music references, it was a favorite. Another, reflecting Cole Porter’s influence on Day, who admires the Hoosier composer’s knack for rhyming, was “The Movie of Your Life.” As a writer of lyrics such as “Did you have a happy ever after? Underneath the Technicolor sky/Did it make you sing with joy and laughter? /Did it ever make you want to cry?,” Day demonstrates his own unique gift for language.
“Till You Come to Me” was another of Day’s original songs which he performed that exhibited his talent for creating imagery through his music. It is a powerful song filled with yearning and desperation with lyrics such as “High noon, same room/this is when it gets so suffocating/ The air sits heavy like the weight of my regret forever letting you go/And it don’t matter whether the windows are open or closed.”
On the lighter side, Day, who is also a skilled arranger, delighted the audience with two clever, not to mention seamless medleys that related to the show’s theme. One was “Fool/Fire,” which included songs such as the Cardigans’ “Lovefool (Say That You Love Me),” and Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Another was “Places,” which was filled with songs about places that he dreamed of being while growing up in a restrictive Mormon culture. Included were tunes like “Bali Hai,” “Oklahoma!,” “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Aside from his accomplished musicianship and his lush and seductive baritone voice, Day also exhibited a dry sense of humor that was engaging and an affable personality that was easy to connect with. And on top of all of that was a showmanship that reflected an entertainer who by virtue of his obvious inner work was comfortable in his own skin.
Interestingly enough, though up to that point his vocals were more than satisfactory, it was Day’s encore that really showed off the true power and range of his instrument. Singing “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)” in tribute to Frank Sinatra, Day conveyed a passion that revealed yet another facet of a performer who is anything but a conventional crooner.
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