Grateful, Grateful

By Barbara & Scott Siegel

Who is luckier: composer John Bucchino, in having David Campbell sing his songs (and help to sell out Joe’s Pub on three successive Monday nights); or David Campbell, in having John Bucchino’s songs to sing (including at least two numbers that have taken the cabaret world by storm, “Grateful” and “Taking the Wheel”)? Perhaps the best answer is that the audience is luckiest. Bucchino’s music is perfectly suited to Campbell’s personality, while Campbell’s multi-faceted voice and acting skills bring out Bucchino’s humanity.

Their recent collaboration at Joe’s Pub, titled Sweet Dreams — An Evening of Songs by John Bucchino, showcased the composer’s talents in a program that surprised us with its occasionally nutty sense of humor. From a whimsical love song called “Puddle of Love” to a furiously funny (and bitingly bitter) number about the end of a romance called “On My Bedside Table,” Bucchino proved himself a master at getting laughs from psychological truths.

Among the more serious offerings, “Temporary” — a ballad for which the adjective “poignant” might have been created — was the discovery of the night. Embracing the ephemeral in all things, both good and bad, “Temporary” is so beautifully heartbreaking that it might eventually give the lie to its title by becoming one of those songs that lasts forever. If only all of Bucchino’s work were that exceptional. The Joe’s Pub program, nearly half of it devoted to bits of the new musical Urban Myths, was a series of highs and lows: there were songs that soared (like “Sweet Dreams,” the fourth tune in the show), and songs that tanked (like the three that preceded it). The unevenness of the material notwithstanding, Campbell was in excellent form throughout. He sang sensitively, passionately, and/or comically as called for, with complete conviction — and with a voice that has the sound of stardom in it.

 from BuyBroadway Press