Accustomed to backup voices and the accompanying swell of guitars and fiddles, country singer Crystal Gayle nestled into a five-day stand at Feinstein’s at the Regency with four musicians and a parcel of familiar trunk tunes. Gayle is the latest country pop artist to cross over to a popular standard repertoire, marking the release of a new CD, “All My Tomorrows.”
Gayle’s singing boasts directness and subtlety. There are no flashy or show-busy theatrics. Affairs of the heart appear to be all that matter, and she sings such weathered ballads as “You Made Me Love You, “What’ll I Do?” and “It Had to Be You” with a sweet, unpretentious air. There is a kind of loping country twang to “You Belong to Me” and it nicely complements the travelin’ lyrics of a picturesque road song
The pretty, petite singer, with a legendary mane that falls just inches from the bandstand floor, also reprised tunes from her Hoagy Carmichael CD. Gayle brings a comforting rural flavor to the “pale moon” of “The Nearness of You,” and the “green spring valleys” of “Skylark.”
No Gayle appearance would be complete without her trademark Nashville-born hits “Don’t It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue” and “You’ve Been Talkin’ in Your Sleep.”
The usual roadhouse sentiment of tears-in-your-beer songs go over just as well with champagne in the environs of a posh nitery. And for good measure, Gayle threw in “Cry Me a River” and classic old Johnny Ray weeper “Cry.”
Gayle offers a torchy take on what just may be the definitive saloon song of all time, “As Time Goes By,” and if Bogey can stand it, so can I. The lady knows how to console the big hurt.
Gayle’s versatile musical director, Jay Patten, doubled on alto and soprano sax, plus guitar. He also sang his own compositions including a Big Apple bow, “Manhattan Moon Dance,” and an appropriate segue to Gayle’s entrance, “Let’s Do Some Old Ones Tonight.” Patten’s cocky ambiance and aggressive jump-tune turn, recalls the old Vegas lounge glory of Sam Butera and the Witnesses.
Gayle and company continue a cross-country, 21-city tour through January, with appearances at concert halls, theaters and auditoriums. Gotham fans had the luxury of intimacy at Feinstein’s.