Blondes really do have more fun

by Ryan Snyder

Like an only slightly more modern version of Betty Grable in How to Marry a Millionaire, Nellie McKay comes off as the kind of girl who adores being showered in clothes and baubles. It has to be a rare occurrence, however, that the jazz-pop wind-up doll actually gets to indulge her typical wide-eyed, witty and extraordinarily self-aware sets surrounded by that kind of merch. At a sold-out performance at Mack & Mack Clothing on Friday night, under the guise of its entertainment alter ego Triad Acoustic Stage, McKay was afforded just that occasion. If it weren’t apparent by her golden, molded locks or a set list that included slinky visualizations of Doris Day, Billie Holliday and Beatles numbers, the “old soul” platitude couldn’t be more accurate to describe McKay if she had arrived on a time machine. She’s seems as likely to possess an affinity for a Baby Browning tucked away in her garter as she does the baby grand from where she radiates sunshine-y vintage pop alongside stinging, Newman-esque political satire. Comparisons of McKay to another classicallytrained jazz chanteuse, Diana Krall, are practically unmistakable, right up to counting some of the same numbers among their oeuvre. Though McKay doesn’t quite approach Krall’s virtuosity, earwigs like the effervescent calypsonian “Caribbean Time” linger in the listener’s headspace well after her final curtsy.