Mary Scholz: a dark- haired, ringlet-crowned angel opens her wings in the Hotel Café
I am so glad I decided to join t unusually large crowd Sunday night to see Mary Scholz at the Hotel Café. I had heard her single, “Bridges We Burn”, and knew she had released a new album, The Girl You thought You Knew, but otherwise I did not know her music. Her clear, bell-like voice, her confidence on stage, her honest lyrics and her intimate introspection all combined to make her performance a joy.
No artifice, no nervousness, no hesitation – Mary Scholz is in her element on stage When she turns that wicked-brilliant smile on the room, framed by her trademark long feather earrings, she can make you and each person in the audience, whether friend or soon-to-be-friend, relax into what seems like a personal relationship. Hotel Café Sunday night felt like I was at a house concert at my house and I was lucky enough to have a dark-haired, ringlet-crowned angel singing in my living room.
Best of all, this angel gifted us with 11 songs, many from her new album, starting with the eerily beautiful “A Mournful Noise” which set the stage – her fans knew they would not be disappointed. She continued to fulfill her promise by belting out “The Girl You Thought You Knew”, the title track of the new album, giving it all she had.
Moving through “I Can’t Tell You Why”, Mary paused, gave us a chance to catch our emotional breath and then broke our hearts with “Bridges We Burn”. No matter how many times I hear them, the linesWhere is my life /Tell me where did it go /I saw for a moment the way it could shine /Then I lost all controlwill always bring back memories and put a lump in my throat. Mary’s vocals which can range from soft and plaintive to powerful and urgent moved from a loving massage to an emotional hypodermic. But, regardless of the key or the volume or the range when she sang, it is always simply herself – honest and just there. It was remarkable.
She broke the “Bridges” spell and brought us back to the Hotel Cafe with banter – stories from the road and a grateful thank you to everyone who had shared their homes with her on her recent tour, and then picked us up with the high tempo “Run Baby Run”. But the short break was over as she melted into the so potent, so personal “Someone Else’s Wife” and then the deep imagery of “In My Bed”.
The room went quiet when she dropped her amazing voice an octave to slide into “Bed”, seducing us to listen and visualize. As her smoky voice rose with yearning, singing I wanna know the way you whisper /And the way that you move /I wanna feel you inside /I wanna know that it’s not just /Inside of my mind, a palpable eroticism drifted like tendrils of fog through the room.
For “Leave Some Light”, she put down the guitar and sat quietly on center stage with her partner on the guitar. He started the song and sang the chorus while Mary exploded into the verses with a powerful, soaring voice pitched to the upper range. While we caught our breath, she quietly moved to the piano and performed what I think was the best song of the night, “One More Day”.
With vocal control so precise a listener would not be aware of it, she begged us toGive me one more day/Give me one more way to feel the pain I’m in/Then you’re free to walk away . The power and emotion Mary pulled out of the piano and the lyrics, born of 7 years of touring and writing, held us spellbound. We could have stopped there.
But Mary wasn’t done with us. Her friend and traveling partner, Sara Ault, took Mary’s place at the piano, a contrast in a blood-red full length gown to Mary’s simple short black dress and black textured stockings, and launched into the high-energy “Radioactive” to the delight of the crowd. Mary then wrapped the night with the ambiguously introspective “Carry On”, telling us But that just keeps me hanging on /And keeps me singing another song. We hope so.