Mary Fahl is an absolute stunner. With her cascading blond hair, fine features, deep blue eyes and pale skin, she could have stepped out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting onto the Roxy stage. Her voice is similarly classic — a powerful, beautifully proportioned contralto that retains its round, effortless tones throughout her range. It’s a combination that should be unbeatable — she’s earthier than Enya, more nuanced than Celine Dion and avoids the bloodless goth of Lisa Gerrard.
But in an hourlong showcase, previewing music from her solo debut, “The Other Side of Time” (due May 29 on Sony/Odyssey), the former October Project singer has yet to find material equal to her talents.
She favors the kind of swelling, deliberate, uplifting ballads that play under the final credits of earnest blockbuster dramas — she performs two, “The Dawning of the Day” from “The Guys” and “Going Home” from the Civil War drama “Gods & Generals.” Chewy and undercooked, they should be accompanied by a roll of Tums.
She is better served by the dusky Moorish intrigue of “Ben Aindi Habibi” and the frenetic “Kindness Can Be Cruel,” which approaches the galloping drama of Jacques Brel; the driving folk of “The Great Unknown” could give her a toehold with Triple A audiences.
But her cover of Lou Reed’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” is ill advised, showing the limitations of a trained voice in a pop context.
She can out-sing Nico without even breaking a sweat, but Fahl’s commanding vocal remakes the song as a surging power balled, turning the original’s dissolute decadence into a demimonde “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”