If I Ever Had a Dream - Nellie McKay, McKay, Nellie
Black Hills of Dakota - Nellie McKay, Fain, Sammy
Dig It - Nellie McKay, Bourne, Hal
Send Me No Flowers - Nellie McKay, Bacharach, Burt
Close Your Eyes - Nellie McKay, Petkere, Bernice
I Remember You - Nellie McKay, Mercer, Johnny
Producing, arranging and performing this album is for McKay the natural outcome of years of enraptured listening to Ms. Day's music. "She was - and still is - ahead of her time". Nellie handpicked these songs from over 600... more » recordings. McKay has a very special connection to this cultural icon - the # 1 female box office star of all time and one of the most prolific recording artists in history - Nellie received the Doris Day Music Award in 2005 and is one of the few people in the last 30 years to be granted an interview with Ms. Day. Nellie's Verve debut is a sophisticated but accessible recording with spare and tasteful arrangements that clearly put the focus on the songs and McKay's exquisite vocal stylings. McKay's fresh take on this music is smartly delivered with a curtsy to Doris, a nod to convention, and a unique twist all her own. An actress (Theater World Award-winner in Three Penny Opera on Broadway), writer and activist (sharing Ms. Day's passion for the animal welfare movement) Nellie is a welcome addition to the rich legacy of great women artists on Verve.« less
Producing, arranging and performing this album is for McKay the natural outcome of years of enraptured listening to Ms. Day's music. "She was - and still is - ahead of her time". Nellie handpicked these songs from over 600 recordings. McKay has a very special connection to this cultural icon - the # 1 female box office star of all time and one of the most prolific recording artists in history - Nellie received the Doris Day Music Award in 2005 and is one of the few people in the last 30 years to be granted an interview with Ms. Day. Nellie's Verve debut is a sophisticated but accessible recording with spare and tasteful arrangements that clearly put the focus on the songs and McKay's exquisite vocal stylings. McKay's fresh take on this music is smartly delivered with a curtsy to Doris, a nod to convention, and a unique twist all her own. An actress (Theater World Award-winner in Three Penny Opera on Broadway), writer and activist (sharing Ms. Day's passion for the animal welfare movement) Nellie is a welcome addition to the rich legacy of great women artists on Verve.
Like a beautiful yard sale treasure, these vocals are rare a
Robert Berry | Sacramento, CA United States | 10/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I popped this in my car stereo hoping to hear a few tracks on the way to work, and because of a super rainstorm induced traffic jam, was able to hear each track in its entirety before I pulled up to the old parking lot. It was good enough to make me want to drive home and hear it all again. A rainy day with Nellie McKay is my idea of heaven. "Normal as Blueberry Pie" is a sultry and fun record that would have fit in perfectly with the '50s, yet is a welcome and gorgeous modern sunbeam in the otherwise murky fog of autotuned garbage that's poured into our ears. On one hand, it's a shame to not enjoy the original songwriting skills of McKay as she's one of the best young scribes out there, but in her hands, the work of Doris Day is simply sublime. There's a love for the source material that's clearly apparent, yet they aren't straight covers, either. Prior McKay collaborator Bob Dorough and other jazz greats provide occasional backup to hold it all together. The cover art is bright and wonderful, as are the interior art surrounding the liner notes featuring a bunch of great vintage outfits she picked up from lord knows where. I recommend picking up the physical CD instead of an iTunes download for that very reason. A must for any fan of Nellie, Doris Day, or good songs in general. Might be a great present for your kid, to show them some music that isn't crappy, too!"
Nellie is far from "normal," and that's a good thing!
Brad S. Ryan | Columbus, OH USA | 10/14/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am an ardent fan of Nellie McKay's airy voice and quirky, original lyrics. Nellie's talent rises far above the overproduced cesspool that is our modern music industry, and she has produced another gem with "Normal as Blueberry Pie." The one original song on this disc fuses perfectly with the covers Nellie selected from Doris Day's extensive canon. In some respects, Nellie has come full circle from her debut. A critic of her first album, "Get Away From Me," described Nellie's complex persona as a combination of Doris Day and Eminem. Now she has recorded a tribute to Doris Day that few contemporary singers could have pulled off with such a fresh treatment. I hope we get a full disc of Nellie hip hop the next time around to showcase her less misogynistic Eminem side.
"Should have signed with Verve instead of Sony," is a memorable line from her debut disc that highlights another full circle evolution for Nellie now that she really has signed with Verve. "Normal as Blueberry Pie," her Verve debut, is definitively her best work since "Get Away From Me." I hope she has found a record company that will embrace her diverse talents and finally showcase her talents to a larger audience. I played this album for my grandmother and she was immensely moved by a woman my age recording an album that could just have easily been released when she was a little girl. Nellie's universal appeal has never been more apparent, and I think it will prove to be her ticket to greater success. This is an album you must own and share with all generations."
Still waiting for Nellie to fulfill her promise
Joseph Byrd | McKinleyville, CA USA | 11/02/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'm an early fan of Nellie. Nothing like her energy and in-your-face assertiveness can come close to her. She is a brilliant instinctive songwriter and singer. She's not nearly at that celestial level on piano (she's good, only not like Judith Hill, closer to pop divas Alicia Keyes and Imogen Heap). She is determinedly idiosyncratic - she has a particular affinity for conservative 50's swing. She is a charismatic performer (honed, like Bette Midler, at gay nightclubs). Her earlier albums were full of clever music ideas and witty hooks, and her growth as an artist in the past has included distinguished undertakings in theater and film, while her songwriting has not matured. But it's been a stressful passage, and she's feisty and brave; like the Dixie Chicks, she took on Columbia Records and won...sort of.
1) This album was a very good idea. Nellie's kind of played out the role of intimidatingly brilliant ingénue, and this showcases her vocal talents better, I think, than most of her own songs do (maybe because in her own songs, you have to keep a close eye out for irony, word-play, and acerbic sarcasm...and here, she doesn't need either).
Doris Day is a great choice for a retro album, partly because she, like Nellie, was smarter than most of the girls, and had to play the roles of big band girl singer, dumb pretty blonde, and undergo all the sexual harassment that was endemic for women in that era and industry. She sued her corrupt management, and won.
Underneath the 50s veneer, Day was a magnificent stylist in both big band and mainstream pop - "Sentimental Journey" and "Secret Love." Nellie's style evokes Doris Day without imitating her. Unfortunately "Secret Love" is not on this compendium. There's a reason for this, I think: McKay has chosen to do a kind of, well, consciously *jazz* version of the songs. That's unfortunate, because while she has great vocal instincts, the songs are poorly accompanied (e.g., "Mean To Me" has a delicious vocal, but is overpowered by gratuitous, busy guitar fills). In other words, she has bad taste.
2) If she was going to do this album, I wish she had gotten an arranger, a la Linda Ronstadt and Nelson Riddle, rather than getting studio musician odds and ends together and improvising head arrangements in the studio. (If her accompanist were Les Paul or Joe Pass or their ilk, that would be different. But then she would have had to trust herself to a real producer and/or arranger.)
And it seems Nellie won't let anyone have any creative role in her records. It has to be PLAYED by her, ARRANGED by her, and PRODUCED by her. In other words, she has bad taste, doesn't appreciate the value of a good arrangement or top studio musicians, AND insists that everything be done her way. Here, that way seems to be low-budget jazz combos.
Doris Day would have demanded strings, or maybe just a better producer. Nellie McKay seems determined to have neither. Reluctance to collaborate with better, more experienced musicians is not a sign of maturity.
When Nellie grows up, she will be a powerful presence in pop music. "
A vacation from the mundane.
C. J. Eliassen | Denver, CO | 10/14/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nellie's ability to take a great song and make it better is beyond explanation. I found my eyes closed in a silent room drifting to a dozens places and times I have only seen in pictures. Most music is something to which I simply listen. Nellie's music I feel."
As Tasty As Boston Cream Pie
Rick Cornell | Reno, Nv USA | 04/10/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As I listened to "Identity Theft" from the album "Obligatory Villagers" (2007), I said, "Wow! If ever there is an artist who would never do a tribute to Doris Day, much less name it 'Normal As Blueberry Pie,' Nellie McKay is the one!"
(Well, no, I didn't say that. But if the subject had come up at that time, I most certainly would have!)
And, here we are....
It is clear, however, that this is not a tongue-in-cheek, pseudo-hip tribute, but a genuine, loving one. The liner notes and cover make it clear: Doris Day, above all else, was an animal rights activist; and judging from the cover and from the quotes in the notes, from Buddha and Einstein to Dick Gregory and Bill Maher, Nellie McKay is as well.
I love this tribute! Each song is a soundscape in and of itself. We have the calliope feel of "The Very Thought of You"; the dreamscapes of "Meditation" and "I Remember You"; the Dixieland rag of "Do Do Do"; the Indian flute of "Black Hills of Dakota"; the hard swing of the infectious "Dig It" (a neglected Johnny Mercer tune); the hoedown feel of "Crazy Rhythm" (complete with Nellie "shooing" away that darned rhythm); the country-porch feel of "Mean to Me"; the dreamy vocal McKay original, "If I Ever Had a Dream"; and the swingingest version ever of "Close Your Eyes." Major kudos to the producers, who just happen to be - Nellie McKay (and Robin Pappas).
And the thing I admire about this recording, above all, is Ms. McKay's artistry. I love her choice of instruments that she plays throughout - for example, the liner notes don't say "Jamaican steel drum," but the synthesizer on "Sentimental Journey" sounds just like one. And in this recording, she rounds her voice consistently so as to affect a pitch-perfect, vibratoless tone. She apes Doris Day's wide-eyed innocence without mocking it.
This is one of the most fun albums in years. It is as tasty as Boston Cream Pie. To all involved in this project - well done!! RC"