You'll forgive us a little jubilance and wild-eyed glee - at last and with pleasure, "Baby, I Feel the Same Way," Ethan Lipton's second live album, is upon us. After a sold-out celebration at Joe's Pub, Manhattan's best upscale pocket venue, we bring you the hail-well-met recorded return of Mr. Lipton and his Orchestra.
Ethan's songs mix kind good humor with sly and tricksy wit; he's a keen observer, with a gift for vagary and metaphor. We're fond of saying that if Charlie Chaplin were a singer, he'd sing stuff like this.
Ethan's musical style draws heavily from bygone classic jazz, and his lyrics are as modern as modern can be - his songs recount a sad tale of love with a Renaissance Faire maiden, the quiet inner thoughts of a man who would prefer that you not bother him while he's arranging his potpourri collection, and the cautionary fable of an innocent Bobby Brown laid low by his nefarious Whitney Houston. In short, Ethan Lipton is, as Popmatters magazine wrote of him, "a man out of time."
"Baby, I Feel the Same Way" is the second recording by Mr. Lipton, who moved to Brooklyn from his native Los Angeles in 1999. His first CD, "A New Low" (2004), was hailed nationwide on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, on the Dr. Demento syndicated radio program, and on Vin Scelsa's specialty show Idiot's Delight, and in publications national (Popmatters), New York local (The Deli), and Internet virtual (Fluxblog). He has been compared to Tom Lehrer, Randy Newman, Frank Zappa, Leon Redbone, and to a Eucalyptus tree, but that's kind of a long story.
What is certain is that Ethan's every performance is memorable, and his unusual style draws and pleases fans from all walks. His audiences are stocked with writers and actors, musicians and media types, odd-job hipsters, and part-time luminaries. At a show at the Living Room on the Lower East Side last year hard-rocker David Lee Roth wandered by, stayed for the whole set, bought a CD and pumped Ethan's hand joyously after the show. "I loved it," he said. "That was great!" Which you might not expect from David Lee Roth, given that the Ethan Lipton Orchestra that evening largely comprised a single ukulele player in a natty tuxedo.
Ethan's shows are dominated as much by his clever and tender songs as they are - it must be said - by his air of understatement, his dapper wardrobe, and his mentionable moustache. He radiates a sense of days gone by and gentle, noble class. In the mold of mournful funnymen Chaplin and Bill Irwin, he is a well-turned soul in the wrong day and age, making the best of modern customs; his performances are delightful, touching, and lightly fantastic.
"Baby, I Feel the Same Way" was recorded live at Tonic last summer. Ethan's first CD was recorded live at Low in DUMBO, where he first began playing New York shows with burlesque artists including hula-hooper Miss Saturn and Whitney Biennial performance artist Julie Atlas Muz. This CD is released for its first run in a limited-edition hand-numbered release of 1,000 copies - these are what is on sale now on this CD Baby page - and will subsequently be pressed in a standard edition.
Returning fans will be pleased to hear that we've listened to your comments and addressed them: where the first record, "A New Low," was intended as a brief introduction to the artist and a short glimpse through his canny eyes, "Baby, I Feel the Same Way" is a full-length romp, with more songs than you can shake a stick at. All right, you can shake a stick at them, fair enough. But this full-length cruise has enough numbers to keep your stick thoroughly shaken, not just stirred.
- Linus Gelber, Home Officer
Home Office Records, New York City (2005)