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Lorraine Feather: Language

Lorraine Feather
Lorraine Feather

As the product of a British father and Minnesotan mother, it seems entirely apropos that Lorraine Feather’s sound suggests the scrubbed, all-American beauty of Ann Hampton Callaway merged with the dry playfulness of Millicent Martin. Nor is it any surprise she is the daughter of lyricist and critic Leonard, one of the all-time sharpest jazz writers, for Lorraine is the equal of not just her esteemed papa but also of such top-drawer wordsmiths as Bob Dorough and Dave Frishberg. Like such masters, she is particularly skilled at observational humor derived from the mundane aspects of everyday life.

She can construct fun-filled tunes from such familiar annoyances as a set of lost keys (“Where Are My Keys?”), the droning repetitiveness of radio reports (“Traffic and Weather,” featuring a special guest-vocal appearance by Tierney Sutton) or the mind-numbing frustration of computer-automated customer service call centers (“We Appreciate Your Patience”). She can simultaneously salute and skewer two show business extremes with parallel portraits of an eager wannabe stuck slinging hash (“Waiting Tables,” wherein Manhattan Transfer mates Janis Siegel and Cheryl Bentyne contribute to the fun) and a supercilious film star bemoaning the burden of fortune and fame (“A Household Name”). She can craft an appropriately peppy yet noirish salute to pop culture icon Kinsey Millhone, the heroine of Sue Grafton’s alphabetical series of bestselling detective novels, then address all of contemporary society’s ills in sports lingo (“Hit the Ground Runnin'”). But Feather’s whip-smart skills aren’t limited to sophisticated witticisms, as here evidenced by a sweet, delicate homage to Billy Strayhorn (“In Flower”) and a rosy rendering of yuletide Manhattan (“I Love New York at Christmas”) that is actually a heart-wrenching snapshot of a crumbling relationship.

Originally Published