Lazy Daze Café
Saturday, Feb. 11
Sarah Scharbrough at Lazy Daze Café
More and more I'm finding the small, intimate venues of Indianapolis can surprise you, with shows at unexpected places and times hitting you from unexpected angles. On Feb. 11, singer/songwriter/pianist Sarah Scharbrough performed at Lazy Daze Café in a pleasantly timed late-morning show along with husband/drummer Jeff McLaughlin; 10:30 a.m. doesn't seem like the right time for a concert, but it neatly fits Scharbrough's sound.
Her approach is born of easygoing, jazzy 1970s soul, a mixture of old Stevie Wonder and Carole King. She glides across the electric piano with ease, even on the complicated material, bringing a smooth feel to the edgier lower-range stuff. (She even brings in some Cyndi Lauper - "I'm a child of the '80s, what would this be without an '80s song?")
Her gentle voice is deceptively strong, filling up a room without seeming loud. It nicely fits her lyrical prowess, creating tranquil and flowing rhythms around Christian themes. It's the easy listening sound of the 1970s, polished to the extent that all edges are rounded smooth. My favorite remains her early "Everytime," the song Stevie Wonder and Carly Simon would come up with if they collaborated and Amy Grant wrote the lyrics.
But under all this influence, what she most reminds me of is a very young Mariah Carey, back in the light-gospel "Vision of Love" days before Carey got into her diva phase and decided that her real purpose was to shriek and shout at the extremes of her vocal range. The Glitter Girl's self-indulgence undermined a real talent and potential for greatness. Sarah Scharbrough has the same potential, but somehow, I don't foresee her squandering it on theatrics and screams.
Sarah Scharbrough next performs at the Jazz Kitchen at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 18, along with Cynthia Layne.