Reviews \

Nellie McKay’s Quirky Aim is True

SAN FRANCISCO: The spunky singer/songwriter takes her piano-driven political agenda to the next level.

If you thought it wasn’t possible to blend jazz classics,political humor, whistling, and just a little ukulele, last night’s(Oct. 4) Nellie McKay show at the Independent would have set youstraight. Introduced over the loudspeaker as “the next President of theUnited States,” and surrounded by a closely seated crowd illuminatedonly by candlelight, the precocious blonde songstress arrived carryinga pile of songbooks, delicately stepping on stage in sparkly flats anda yellow dress adorned with crepe sashes.

McKay then openedwith Duke Ellington’s beautiful plodding “In a Sentimental Mood,”before elegantly stroking the keys on “There You Are in Me” and “Food”from 2006’s Pretty Little Head. Soliciting participation fromthe audience by breaking them into three groups to sing nonsensicallyrics, McKay sang “Work Song,” and, with a grimace, wryly teased fansby encouraging thoughts of “Dick Cheney’s smile.”

Her political barbs were rampant throughout the evening — she referenced Hillary Rodham Clinton on Obligatory Villagerstune “Mother of Pearl,” and introduced classic “Don’t Fence Me In” as”a song about illegal immigration.” While McKay wrapped with Herman’sHermits favorite “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” on ukulele,the night’s surprise standouts featured the songsmith’s own theatricalcharm on Perry Como hit “Prisoner of Love,” and Patsy Cline tune”Walkin’ After Midnight,” which she delivered in a rollickingplayer-piano style, with just the right amount of twang — perfect andlovely.

We asked: Nellie McKay’s new album Obligatory Villagers is dedicated to the “disappearing landmarks of the Poconos.” What would you dedicate an album to?