February 20, 2017 by Elizabeth Ahlfors for cabaretscenes.org
For his loyal fans, John Lloyd Young is Here for You, celebrating Valentine’s Day and his fifth Café Carlyle engagement, with the songs they love to hear.
Young, in dark suit and shades, takes the stage like a confident crooner with a Rat Pack edge. With secure breath control and romantic interpretations, he presents music with an intense emotional core. While Bob Gaudio’s “Sherry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” (Gaudio/Bob Crewe/Artie Schroeck) and “Ooo, Baby Baby” (Pete Moore/Smokey Robinson) all featured his impressive tenor and on-the-mark falsetto technique, Young has expanded his musical scope. He has inched away from the Jersey Boys‘ rock ‘n’ roll world, moving into the 1970s with an ebullient rendition of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” backed by Musical Director/pianist Tommy Faragher and a crackerjack band.
Comfortable in the room, keeping good eye contact with the audience, he opens with Jim Morrison’s intriguing “The Spy,” with a hint of the stalker. Old favorites include Randy Newman’s early hit for Gene Pitney, “Just One Smile,” and Roy Orbison’s breakup song, “Say No More.” One of his influences, Mexican pop singer Luis Miguel, led Young to include pop songs in Spanish, and he delivers Gabriel Ruiz’ impassioned “Usted” (“I know the dream that you’re dreaming of”).
Young also presents original songs written with longtime musical director Faragher and Adam Zelkind, including “Alone Together” and “Slow Dawn Calling,” evoking a more mature look at romance. Personally, I welcome hearing Young’s inclusion of songs not so closely connected to well-known original versions. He is dedicated to giving his fans what they want, but most of his selections have appeared in previous shows, well-performed and well interpreted, but repetitive. That said, he ends his show again with my standout of the show, Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” While others have covered this song, including the songwriter, Young once more leaves the audience, and me, touched and wanting more.
The band includes Faragher on piano and keyboard, John Putnam on acoustic and electric guitar, Paul Socolow on bass and drummer Eric Kalb.