Dressed in skintight black leather pants, an` asymmetrical white shirt and a black short jacket, Julia Murney took to the stage at Feinstein’s/54Below under the wonderful musical direction of Will van Dyke. Backed by the fabulous Whiskey 5 (Dyke on piano, Allison Seiner on cello, John Epcan on drums, Steve Gilewski on guitar and Nate Brown on bass), Julia let us see her raw side. The set was eclectic with songs by Maureen McGovern, Don Mclean, Harold Arlen, Bonnie Raitt, Sara Bareilles, Tom Waits, One Direction, Stephen Schwartz and more.
Starting off in the country rock vein Ms. Murney sang two songs from her solo album “I’m Not Waiting.” Best known for her electrifying portrayal of Queenie in Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party and as Elphaba on Broadway and the touring version of Wicked, you will not get songs from these shows. The only numbers from musicals are “Meadowlark,” a mash-up of “I Feel Pretty” and a David Loud arrangement of “New York, New York.” On these songs as well as the song “If You Only Knew” by Mr. van Dyke Allison Seiner haunting cello rang clear and strong. Mr. van Dyke’s song was plaintively dark, plaintive and memorable. As Ms. Murney’s mash-ups of “Can’t Make You Love Me” and “This Woman’s Work as well as her “Beautiful” mash up are well put together and highly musical.
Murney shows both power and sensitivity with a soaring bold voice. She also has a strong personality, which is highly witty on her observances of life situations. She told of an audition where the producers told her it was going to Broadway and she tapped twice and said they all say that. In listening to her, you wanted to be her friend due to her honest and frank outlook on life. Ms. Murney does not hold back personally or professionally and it is refreshing.
Julia Murney: Feinstein’s/54 Below, 254 West 54th St, you can still catch Ms. Murney Saturday Night.