Music Review: Alan Cumming – I Bought A Blue Car Today

“You have to understand the way I am, mein herr”

Supported by a series of shows on both sides of the Atlantic, Alan Cumming’s I Bought A Blue Car Today documents his last 10 years of slowly becoming an American citizen whilst never really losing the impish Scottish charm for which he is so well known from appearances in film, tv and onstage. Under the musical direction of Lance Horne, he rips through a huge range of songwriters and styles whilst showing off a new facet to his ‘many talents and one which pleases for the most part.

He slips between the world of popular music and musical theatre with an impressive ease: a rousing rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Shine’ is matched by the stirring take on ‘Where I Want To Be’ from Chess; and who else could trace a journey from Dory Previn’s ‘Dance and Dance and Smile and Smile’ to a Mika song via Victoria Wood’s ‘Thinking of You’. But the highlight is probably a sleazily sensual riff on ‘Mein Herr’ from Cabaret that is downright filthy but huge amounts of fun.

The inclusion of Falsettoland’s ‘What More Can I Say’ and a medley of songs from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, although both are excellently executed, feels a little predictable given their ubiquity in cabaret turns, queer or otherwise, all over the show at the moment, but it was nice to see Cumming and Horne delving a little deeper to unearth ‘Unexpressed’ by John Bucchino, who has a lovely repertoire which really does deserves more exposure.

What I love most about this cd is Cumming’s complete lack of apology for who he is, he maintains his Scottish accent throughout and so whilst there’s lot of fun in his assuming a whole range of different characters in the 14 songs here, there’s never any danger of forgetting to whom we’re listening. His indelible stamp of personality on this material combined with his passion and the assurance with which he sings makes I Bought A Blue Car Today a really rather exciting musical journey.

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