Home Imperatives Kate McGarry + Keith Ganz Ensemble: What to Wear in the Dark

Kate McGarry + Keith Ganz Ensemble:
What to Wear in the Dark

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Kate McGarry + Keith Ganz Ensemble: What to Wear in the Dark
Keith Ganz and Kate McGarry photographed by David Goddard

Sometime after the Second World War, the truly great Polish poet Tadeusz Różewicz wrote a poem entitled “Draft of a Contemporary Love Poem”, which began with a powerful image evoked these opening lines from its first verse: “For surely whiteness / is best described through greyness / bird through stone / sunflowers / in December”. The poem went on to make wholesome “love” come alive in a series of hot breaths from lips to cheek through a series of strikingly contrary images. This is exactly what Kate McGarry does on the repertoire of What to Wear in the Dark, her lustrous voice turning the oblique metaphors of shadows into luminous poetry sung in an inimitable manner as only she is capable of.

Miss McGarry’s has a special gift for voicing music that permeates the mind’s ear in a manner that is fresh, youthful, evenly produced, with mellifluousness balanced by just that touch of emotion to make your senses tingle. She is one of the most sensitive interpreters too, which is how these famous songs by other very famous writers and singers have become so much her own that you might believe that they were written just for her. Furthermore Miss McGarry phrases with unforced eloquence, painting salient words within a liquid legato. Her diction is a model [for vocalists], both expressive and crystal clear. With no hint of mawkishness, she excels [especially in] “The 59th Street Bridge Song [Feelin’ Groovy]” in wondering with wistful tenderness and with an [almost] Sassy-like blush.

It is Kate McGarry’s shy understatement and her gift for simplicity that brings enormous musical rewards and sustain her metaphor of dark-to-light throughout this magnificently music. The album features exquisitely crafted arrangements of beguiling variety and sensuousness in every lovingly-caressed phrase. Miss McGarry’s love for songfulness shines brightly. The chosen material features popular classics and lesser-known gems. Listening to the way in which Miss McGarry seductively bends the notes in “Both Sides Now” and “Desperado”, and sculpts the long meditative inventions of “Anthem” it is clear that there’s not a single semiquaver that hasn’t been fastidiously considered.

For years now, Keith Ganz has shone a striking, sparkling light on Miss McGarry’s work with his elegantly shaped arrangements and musical production and performance on an array of guitars and basses. This album is no exception. This repertoire also features the evocative work of pianist, organist and accordionist Gary Versace who is also completely attuned to the vocalist’s vision and artistry. The celebrated Ron Miles guest stars on several songs, delivering powerful missives each time he solos. Many albums, no matter how artistically-produced usually peak once during the duration of the music, but Miss McGarry’s recording does so twice when, with Erin Bentlage’s vocal arrangement of “On the Road to Find Out” she shares the limelight with Miss Bentlage, Becca Stevens, and Michelle Willis who also play charango and Wurlitzer respectively, while Christian Euman and James Shipp provide exquisite percussion colours.

Whether evocative of shadowy nights or grey rainy days, each track takes us from darkness into light on an album to absolutely die for…

Track list – 1: Dancing in the Dark; 2: Barrytown; 3: Both Sides Now; 4: God Moves on the City; 5: The 59th Street Bridge Song [Feelin’ Groovy]; 6: Desperado; 7: On the Road to Find Out; 8: Anthem; 9: Here Comes the Sun; 10: It Happens All the Time in Heaven

Personnel – Kate McGarry: vocals; Keith Ganz: guitars and bass [1, 4 – 6, 8], electric and acoustic guitars [2, 3, 9, 10] and acoustic bass guitar [7]; Gary Versace: piano and organ [1 – 6, 8 – 10], Wurlitzer and accordion [1, 4 – 6, 8]; Ron Miles: cornet [1, 4 6, 8]; Obed Calvaire: drums [1, 4 – 6, 8]; Sean Smith: acoustic bass [2, 3, 9, 10]; Clarence Penn: drums [2, 3, 9, 10]; Erin Bentlage: vocals and vocal arrangement [7]; Becca Stevens: vocals and charango [7]; Michelle Willis: vocals and Wurlitzer [7]; Christian Euman: drums [7]; James Shipp: brushes and pandeiro [7]

Released – 2021
Label – Resilience Music Alliance
Runtime – 1:01:50

Raul da Gama is a poet and essayist. He has published three collections of poetry, He studied at Trinity College of Music, London specialising in theory and piano, and he has a Masters in The Classics. He is an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep technical and historical understanding of music and literature.

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