The intimate club is packed with patrons. The lights dim, and we hear a funky riff from the drums. The bass and guitar join the groove; the guitar joins with a single note pattern that instantly raises the temperature in the already sweltering room. The singer comes in with the opening strains of "Cold Turkey," her voice in perfect sync with the rhythm section's beat. We wonder, "What year is this?" 1966? No, it's 2013, and the song is the opening cut from Shoshana Bean's sophomore effort, "O'Farrell Street," a ten-song original set that pays a heartfelt tribute to the soulful R&B sound of the 60's, with nods to Etta James, Sam Cooke, Al Green, Ronnie Spector, and many others whose "soul" we associate with the genre.
Bean is a major talent with a long career ahead. Known primarily for her Broadway credits as Idina Menzel's first replacement in the smash hit, "Wicked," and her work in "Hairspray," Bean shows off a powerful voice with the ability to be absolutely comfortable in the stylings she displays on this new record.
From the bluesy sound of "Gin and Cigarettes," and the gospel-tinged ("Quittin' Time," "I Am Not Unchanged"), to the upbeat homages to Aretha Franklin and Martha Reeves ("Running Out of Days," and the aforementioned "Cold Turkey"), with their horn-infused beats and driving snare drums, Bean paints a variety of musical pictures of hope, love lost, and love gained. All this while we can't stop the tapping of our feet.
CD and Digital formats