REVIEW: The Evelyn Situation
On the evening of Friday, October 7, The Evelyn Situation performed to an over- crowded house at the Common Ground Cafe in Summit, NJ. Operating in a business often rampant with trite lyrics and banal chord progressions, The Evelyn Situation presented its audience with new, original music that is both provocatively thoughtful and raucously entertaining at once, with a polished professionalism that allows the audience to be effortlessly drawn into this haunting yet compelling world that is its music.
The Evelyn Situation is comprised of three singers (Jill Knapp, Donna VanderGaag and Danielle Franklin) and three instrumental accompanists (Leo McClusky and Paul Badalamenti on guitars and Andrew Durkin, guitar, piano and songwriter). One might think that three women’s voices and three guitars is a poverty of variety, but the economical arrangement of these elements produces a gamut of dynamics. Jill’s remarkable four-octave range has a consistent character in every register; a confident yet playful tone that ranges from a loving croon to a sarcastic snarl depending on the context. Donna’s lilting gospel quality yields some nutty surprises which reveals a complex mystery behind a simple facade. Danielle expertly manipulates her attractive mezzo to reflect her jazz and R&B tastes. Any of these voices alone is a unique aural confection, and together they display a well-rehearsed mastery over their intended musical product, with harmonies expertly in tune at all volumes, resulting in a listening experience both intimate and all-embracing.
Badalamenti’s and McClusky’s guitar work, coupled with Durkin’s potent piano and acoustic-guitar playing provide an inventive rhythmic backdrop for the singers. The guitars are kept scrupulously in tune and the players utilize the full range of the instruments to create a wide, yet never overpowering accompaniment spectrum.
Durkin is the composer and lyricist who provides The Evelyn Situation with its songs, and the band members collectively devise the arrangements. His melodies and chord progressions are both memorable and without peer, revealing no single influence and often confoundingly difficult to categorize. His lyrics are as readable as they are listenable; irony, sarcasm, bitter wit and an overall twisted perspective combine to tackle issues which weigh heavily on all our shoulders: jobs, relationships, food, eternity, etc., and the final product is executed with good sardonic humor by The Evelyn Situation.
Keep an eye peeled for this band. The musical experience is nothing you’d expect, and I strongly believe you’ll be grinning a lot more after a performance.