I love you. Next time, sing longer.
The Broadway Critic
From Eden with Love, is basically “a heartfelt response to the many song requests from fans, family and friends, [which] is an intimate and personal tribute to each of them.” Espinosa covered songs that varied from Garbage to Australian pop star, Sia to one of the greatest songwriters ever, Joni Mitchell. Espinosa opened From Eden With Love with “#1 Crush” by Garbage. Instead of the ethereal background vocals, her musical director, Joseph Abate, ingeniously wrote this particular part for the string section. It worked really well. In fact, all of the arrangements worked. They were stunning. Abate created these incredible arrangements for an eight-piece band – cello, viola, violin, piano, (2) french horns, guitar/bass and drums. The band added the edge and warmth that Espinosa needed to create a full sound.
Espinosa sang for about an hour and her set list included songs like, “I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten,” “#1 Crush,” “The Girl You Lost to Cocaine,” “Mama,” “A Case of You,” “Both Sides Now” and “I’m Gonna Be Strong”. She mentioned that one of her goals with this project was to help create a new sound for herself. She felt that she had been pigeonholed into a “certain” role and she wanted to change that image. (That image being a fierce belting diva that gets huge leads like Elphaba in Wicked and the title role in BKYLN on Broadway.) While, I loved her song choices – they were varied in style, time period and artist – I still wanted to hear a few musical theatre songs. Probably 60% of the room was musical theatre geeks, like me, and the other 40% were her friends or friends of the band members. I didn’t want to hear her sing “Defying Gravity,” though the eight young twenty-something girls that were sitting next to me were probably dying to hear it, I wanted to hear something musical theatre-y. There are hundreds of musical theatre songs that could have been reinterpreted and rearranged, according to her “new sound”, that would have rocked my and the 0ther 60% of the room’s world. If not, then maybe add one for your encore. Please?
You could tell that Espinosa comes from a theatre background. Each one of her songs were acted almost too perfectly. Usually when you see musicians or band perform, like when I saw Sia perform at the Fillmore last year, they connect about half to their audience and half to their song. Espinosa was fiercely committed to her song and in musical theatre words: you could always tell who her “acting partner” was. Not sure if this was a bad or good thing (it definitely made the songs more powerful), it just felt different from when a rock or pop star would sing the songs. Her encore performance of the evening, “I’m Gonna Be Strong” was absolutely stunning. She committed to that song in way that I didn’t think was possible. She sang and acted the hell out of it.
The Rrazz Room was posh and intimate, perfect for Espinosa to connect with her audience. Yet, it was big enough that her voice was able to fill the room and not overpower it (though from where we were sitting the drums were pretty overpowering). She was cute and personable and I could have listened to her for another hour. We were all a bit disappointed when we realized she had sung her last song. Overall, her set was much too short, especially for a one-band show (maybe there should be an opener next time). I just wanted more and that’s a good thing. You never want to outstay your welcome and Espinosa was definitely far from outstaying her welcome in San Francisco. So I say – one musical theatre geek to another, “So long fare thee well, pip pip cheerio… be back soon!”
Watch Eden Espinosa perform: Sia’s “The Girl You Lose to Cocaine”
Martha Wainwright’s “Mother Bloody F***ing A**hole”