Herewith a warning: Susannah McCorkle already has done two shows at the Hollywood Roosevelt's Cinegrill. Only six more nights remain to see and hear one of the country's finest performers of classic American song.
In her opening Thursday night, McCorkle quickly made it clear that she is not a singer who takes the easy path. Starting with a rapid-fire rendition of "That's Entertainment," she immediately demonstrated her versatility by easing smoothly into Oscar Brown, Jr.'s slangy "Call of the City" and followed with Rupert Holmes' plaintive "The People That You Never Get to Love."
A light-stepping romp through "Cheek to Cheek" (one that Fred Astaire would surely have loved) was followed by a ballad-style reading of Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg's "If I Only Had a Heart" (from "The Wizard of Oz") that brought a startlingly new perspective to the familiar lyrics.
McCorkle's burry contralto voice had the warmth and familiarity of an old friend's greeting, yet nothing that she did was cute or cloying or superficial. Every song--from the bossa nova rhythms of "Triste" to a 3/4 version of "There's No Business Like Show Business," from up-tempo jazz to lyric-rich show tunes--was rich with multi-dimensional layers of meaning.