Lorna Luft: Songs My Mother Taught Me
The appealing singer invites comparison to mom Judy Garland in this bold tribute show.
The problem is that when anyone, Luft included, takes on the Garland legacy, audiences who know the style, charm and drama of the original will hear those versions in their mind's ear and see those versions in their mind's eye -- unless the singer brings something to them that has the freshness, conviction and utterly natural talent which was Garland's hallmark from her teens through the tribulations of her last compromised years.
To give the appealing Luft her due, she has pipes of steel, mic technique on a par with her mother's, the drive Mom had to give the crowd everything she has to give, and an easy way about her that's completely convincing when she talks about her mother's soul-saving humor and devotion to her offspring (which also include Luft's brother Joey and half-sister Liza Minnelli).
She also performs generally acceptable versions of "I Feel a Song Coming On," "Rock-a-bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody," "You're Nearer," "The Man That Got Away" and a next-to-closing piece of material based on Garland's "Born in a Trunk" routine, during which Luft blares healthy snatches of many other Garland signature ditties.
On the other hand, Luft succumbs to the more than occasional pitch glitch and a vibrato so wobbly it seems to call for a crutch. Sure, Garland had a catch in her throat, but that's an entirely different thing and made all the difference between something heart-stopping and something merely appreciation-stopping.