Nellie McKay at Lincoln Hall and SPACE | Concert preview
Six-plus years out from an attention-demanding debut, Get Away From Me, it’s still impossible to predict what Nellie McKay do next.
It takes real work to remain inscrutable in this era of fleeting trends and blog snobs. Mere talent, even genius, alone won’t cut it. With that in mind, hard-to-categorize chanteuse Nellie McKay has done a remarkable job of holding the spotlight without allowing herself to go transparent.
Six-plus years out from an attention-demanding, brash debut that dragged pop standards into modernity, Get Away From Me, it’s still impossible to predict what the 28-year-old will do next. Well, beyond the fact that it’ll come with Broadway and cabaret flourishes. In 2009, the gorgeous throwback Normal as Blueberry Pie featured a dozen songs made famous by Doris Day, while last year’s Home Sweet Mobile Home flits from jazz scat to salsa to light reggae, with contributions from David Byrne and references to Charles Mingus.
But no matter the context, McKay carries herself with a post-ironic sincerity that forces you to take her seriously, even as you scour her face for signs of a sly wink.
Don’t expect the strawberry blond to break character, though. Her satirical songs and style hopping may be schizophrenic, but she herself—or at least her persona—is as steady as they come, and her performances stronger and more entertaining for it.