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May 2005

Lea DeLaria
Double Standards
Telarc

Though there's a thin line between vocal jazz and cabaret, rare is the artist who can shift effortlessly between the two. Ann Hampton Callaway can do it, as can Wesla Whitfield and Bobby Short. But nobody can do it with quite the same fire and sass as Lea DeLaria. Listening to the archly-titled Double Standards (Telarc), there's the definite suggestion of Peggy Lee. But it's a saucier, take-no-prisoners Peggy. DeLaria softly massages the bruised majesty of Neil Young's "Philadelphia," infuses both Debbie Harry's "Call Me" and Green Day's "Longview" with breezy insouciance, traverses the tongue-in-cheek brilliance of No Doubt's "Just a Girl," and gambols through Chrissie Hynde's "Tattooed Lwove Boys" and the Doors' "People Are Strange." Sharp as a tack and as tartly intoxicating as a mint julep, DeLaria is, in terms of post-millennial sass and smarts, the vocal equivalent of a lightening rod. No, make that a divining rod.

Originally published in May 2005
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