The concept of the evil twin is a popular one in literature, but what about the good twin? What if Mr. Hyde were to drink a potion that transformed him into Dr. Jekyll? Julie Budd is too often compared to Streisand, they share a similar voice and the same hammy Brooklyn attitude. Unlike Streisand, however, Budd has stuck with quality composers, and while she may not have the same high visibility as the older Streisand, she has won a dedicated following.
Even though the only places for her to work in New York are high-class cabaret rooms like the Algonquin, it’s also a mistake to think of Budd as strictly a cabaret singer. Budd spends most of her time out in the provinces, working pops concerts in large venues and Atlantic City-style showrooms. Ultimately, she has more in common with traditional pop divas like Eydie Gorme than cab queens such as Andrea Marcovicci.
Budd has a key sense of dynamics, direction and flow, varying between big dramatic numbers, intimate ballads and swinging rhythm numbers. Her banter with the audience is warm and winning (even if she did mention her solid new release, “If You Could See Me Now,” a few too many times).
Budd’s voice is an amazing instrument and her placement is nearly perfect. It’s particularly satisfying to hear her slowly ending a number on a descending line, gently sliding down from note to note, all exactly where they should be. It was only when doing her really big numbers, the supercolossal belters, that she tended to overwhelm the small Oak Room and its sound system, neither of which were designed to handle so much electricity.
She introduced four new songs at this show and on the album, none of which made much of an impression, although the best of these were two by musical director Herb Bernstein, including “Home at Last.”
She wisely began her wrap-up with “This Nearly Was Mine,” leading into a well-constructed medley of Oscar Hammerstein blockbusters. It was a perfect ending — a sign that Budd is a class act.