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Patricia O’Callaghan: Real Emotional Girl

It’s tough to pigeonhole Patricia O’Callaghan. The stunning Canadian chanteuse with the chilling soprano has, over the course of two CDs and endless personal appearances, proven herself equally at home with the blunt edges of Kurt Weill and the soft raillery of the Barenaked Ladies. Her third album, Real Emotional Girl (Teldec 8573-81390-2; 55:16), serves simply to reinforce her eclectic versatility. Drawing heavily on the Leonard Cohen songbook, O’Callaghan sets the tone with his “Hallelujah,” a personal favorite that often anchors her live performances. Other highlights include a richly shaded rendition of Randy Newman’s title track, a rousing version of Weill’s “Captain Valentine’s Tango” and a slow, sensual treatment of the Bernstein-Comden-Green gem “Lucky to Be Me” from On the Town. O’Callaghan closes as she opens, with Cohen. “A singer must die for the lie in her voice,” she sings with heartfelt sincerity. It is, perhaps purposefully, an ironic choice, since O’Callaghan sings with a gut-level truthfulness that ranks her among the most genuine artists on the contemporary cabaret scene.

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