You're in good hands with a cabaret singer like Carl Anderson. Assured and personable, the tall, lanky performer has one of those gutsy, straight-from-the-diaphragm voices, and he uses it to good effect on upbeat, original jazz/pop tunes.
Some of those tunes aren't worthy of the emotional weight and intensity that Anderson poured into them during his show at the Roxy on Wednesday, but he treated all of them with equal respect--from the sublime to the sappy.
Anderson has been around for years, ranging back to the early '70s when he appeared Off Broadway in "Jesus Christ Superstar." Since then, his career has mostly floundered, since he's one of those tough-to-pigeonhole entertainers.
At the Roxy, his offbeat character reared its head on Sting's atmospheric tale of a vampire, "Moon Over Bourbon Street"--not exactly one of your more conventional song choices.
He was on more traditional footing with "Friends and Lovers," his current hit duet with Gloria Loring, which he sang with more heft and passion than the vinyl version. Anderson closed his set with what he referred to as a "crying in your cognac" ballad, Stevie Wonder's "Lately." Sung with minimal back-up from his terrific five-piece band, that number found Anderson at his peak.
Anderson, artistically akin to people like Al Jarreau or even Liza Minelli, is basically a good saloon singer whose appeal can best be appreciated in a cramped, intimate room like the Roxy. While "Friends" is bringing him a broader audience, he should be careful not to lose that cabaret aura.