Maria Muldaur,
A Woman Alone with the Blues
... Remembering Peggy Lee

(Telarc, 2003)

Maria Muldaur is a fine interpreter of songs that are sometimes off the beaten path. As a singer who has been around a few years, and with few "hits," she remains a presence on the stage. She is a singer with a dedication to and knowledge of her music that shines through in every song she sings. That being said, I was disappointed with the sound of this CD.

For those who know Peggy Lee only as the composer/singer of "Fever," they recognize it as a classic and as her signature song. Lee was well ahead of her time and place in that she composed, arranged, sang and produced music that is still performed and well known. While I was listening to this CD, on the same day and quite serendipitously, I heard Peggy Lee's version of "Fever" as well as a guitar arrangement of the same song. Both versions caught my attention and made themselves immediately resonant within my brain. I was moved and delighted by both versions. I grew up hearing various Peggy Lee songs, and they never fail to move me. The songs on this CD did not move me, nor remain with me after hearing them.

Muldaur is a musical survivor. She knows the tunes, she knows what she likes and she is quite capable. Some of the songs featured on this CD, such as "Winter Weather," "Everything is Moving Too Fast," "Waitin' for the Train to Come In" and "I'm Gonna Go Fishin'," were all unfamiliar to me and in themselves quite interesting. However, while the music was fine and the arrangements were adequate to the songs, Muldaur was unable to evoke the emotions like another singer comparable to Peggy Lee, like Bette Midler or Barbra Streisand in her heyday or even Liza Minelli, can do. They are skilled interpreters of the meanings of the songs within the song. I do not doubt Muldaur's passion for and interest in Lee's songs. Muldaur's liner notes indicate her long interest in Lee's work. However, Peggy Lee, and the other singers I mentioned who could emulate her style and vocal depth, are more smoke and honey than maple syrup.

If one wants a pleasant and soothing CD to listen to and not make any kind of emotional commitment to it, then this CD is just the thing. For those who want more emotion, passion, power and tenacious musicality, then go to the original artist and composer, Peggy Lee. Muldaur is a dedicated musical artist. However, she is more of a light-verse poet than a teller of the epic tale.

- Rambles
written by Ann Flynt
published 9 August 2003

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