When I first heard Janene Lovullo at Sterling's Upstairs at Vitello's in January of 2010, I was captivated by her beautifully fragile soprano voice and how well she was able to convey the delicacy of the lyrics of each song to a large audience. I also remember telling her how she needed to record, as, unlike many singers, hers is a voice that is ideally suited to record. Well, she released the lovely album This Moment in 2012...and now, just released as of February 2013, comes her second album Broadway, Intimate. As I listened, I can truthfully say that I haven't been this excited about a singer since Joan Ryan's "Shall We Dance?" several years ago. Unusually different arrangements and an up close, personal interpretation that sends the already popular tune soaring to brand new heights....such are the accomplishments of Janene Lovullo.
Lovullo's lilting soprano works wonders with every single one of the CD's 12 songs, some very familiar, others less so. And songs that are familiar, as presented in Broadway, Intimate, sound delightfully fresh, almost brand new. Take, for example, her opening of Cole Porter's usually rollicking "Anything Goes". Lovullo makes it a quiet ballad and I must say, I really digested the lyrics for the first time. She works the same magic with "Memory" from Cats, "I Cain't Say No" from Oklahoma! - usually performed boisterously by Ado Annie with an emphasis on comic flair. Here it sounds like a sincere, yet light and amusing confession between friends. Lovullo also takes risks by singing tunes ordinarily performed by male singers, like "Bring Him Home" from Les Mis, "Cool" from West Side Story, "Somebody, Somewhere" from The Most Happy Fella, and "If I Loved You" from Carousel. And then there's a daring move to include lesser known songs such as "Beauty Secrets" from Lola, "Night Song" from Golden Boy and "Learn to Be Lonely" from A Doll's Life... all lovely and detailing a step further the precious intimacy of the listening experience.
Backed by terrific musical director Christopher Marlowe on piano, Chuck Bergbofer on bass, and Kendall Kay on drums, Lovullo presents an evening of show tunes that is at once unique and unforgettable. She is one of a rare breed of singers who can sound equally brilliant on disc as well as live, in concert. Such resourcefulness! Such great artistry! Janene Lovullo. Broadway, Intimate. Brava!