Lauren Fox takes up a one week residency at the Crazy Coqs with her set entitled Love, Lust, Fear & Freedom: The Songs of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, a distinctive take on the works of the iconic pair. Not quite a tribute act, though Fox's rambling (if meticulously researched) patter between songs is nothing less than a gushing tribute to both artistes, she takes a broadly chronological journey through the pair’s separate catalogues, pausing to comment on the life milestones pertinent to each singer as well as centering her act around the brief period when Cohen and Mitchell were in a relationship.
Opening with the endearing Michael From Mountains, there is a charming clarity to her manner and it is a measure of the evening that she can comfortably swoop from that number to the wryly cynical Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye from Cohen. Eschweing all props, she simply dons a trilby that subtly suggests Cohen’s style when singing the man’s songs. Other than that, the evening is carried by the simplicity of her voice and John Webber’s seductively well rehearsed 3-piece band.
Some of Fox’s work is finely presented. Singing the Mitchell number Little Green, the song was beautifully arranged and she picked out its poignant delicacy well. A vibrato twang in her early numbers was proved to be nerves and midway through the first half, Fox dried painfully. Her stumble was respected sensitively by the crowded venue and picking herself up professionally. Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning proved to be an invigorating display of talent.
When singing Mitchell’s work, Fox is at times sublime, with her encore number of the classic Both Sides Now, a treat. The laconic drawl of Cohen, such an aural hallmark of his sound, does not translate as easily and some moments, particulary the few brave episodes of a capella singing, seemed to not quite hit the spot. That being said, the arrangement of both vocals and accompaniment for Cohen’s famous Hallelujah was another closing delight.
Acclaimed on the other side of the pond, it may just have been first night nerves that took the gleam off Fox’s mettle and one suspects that as her week plays out she will grow in confidence. If the Cohen / Mitchell era appeals, or if you simply enjoy a relaxed interpretation of some 20th century classics, then wander along to this offering at the Crazy Coqs as part of the London Festival of Cabaret. There is some deliciously mellowed talent on display.
Runs until 17th May 2014