DIVA TALK: A Dozen Must-Have Female Vocal Recordings

By Andrew Gans
19 Jul 2013

Cover art

Ellen Greene
"In His Eyes"

On her 2004 debut solo recording "In His Eyes," stage and screen star Ellen Greene managed to do the near-impossible: She imbued her studio recording with the wide range of emotion that fills her live performances. Greene possesses a unique, easily identifiable voice, one with an innate warmth; she can also make you laugh one minute and break your heart the next. The 13-track disc begins with Sarah McLachlan's "I Love You," and from the moment Greene sings "I have a smile stretched from ear to ear to see you walking down the road," she completely hooks the listener and proceeds to take him or her on a 58-minute emotional journey. That roller-coaster-ride-of-a-journey follows with a haunting rendition of Kate Bush's "The Man with the Child in His Eyes" before venturing into tunes by Peter Allen, Alice Cooper, Paula Cole, Tori Amos, Queen, Tom Waits, Freddie Mercury as well as a new piece by musical director and pianist Christian Klikovits, "When Love Is Gone." Although the disc includes just one theatre song — a bonus track of Weill and Brecht's "Pirate Jenny" — Greene is such a terrific storyteller that each song becomes a theatre piece in itself. As I've written before, Greene's emotional nakedness and fragility comes across in everything she sings. Just listen to her delivery of Simpson and Miller's "Ready for Love": Like the greatest of theatre ballads, in Greene's hands (and voice) the longing she expresses is completely heartbreaking. Other highlights include fiery renditions of "Nothing Blues" and "Throwing Stones"; a reading of Alice Cooper's "Only Women Bleed" that includes some humorous, off-the-cuff remarks by back-up vocalist Maiya Sykes; the best version of Peter Allen's "Pretty Pretty" I've heard; a touching take of "Too Much Love Will Kill You"; and the aforementioned Klikovits ballad, "When Love Is Gone." Two of my favorite tracks are Tori Amos' ravishing "Winter" and the wrenching "Love Is Everything" by Jane Siberry.