Album Remarks & Appraisals:
DeLaria is currently best known as "Carrie 'Big Boo' Black" in the hit Netflix series Orange is the New Black. The first major jazz reworking on Bowie's beloved catalog, the album features tracks such as a smooth bossa nova interpretation of "Golden Years," a trenchant "Life On Mars?" and a roof-raising gospel take on "Modern Love." Delaria boasts a multi-faceted career as a comedian, actress and jazz musician; she holds the distinction of being the first openly gay comic on television in America which led to countless television and film roles; selected TV credits include "Awkward," "Clarence," "Californication," "The Oblongs," "One Life to Live," "Law and Order: SVU," "Will and Grace," "Friends" and "Matlock"; selected film credits include The First Wives Club, Dear Dumb Diary and Edge of Seventeen.
Audio Mixer: Chris Allen .
Recording information: Sear Sound, NYC.
Photographer: Sarah Wilmer.
On her fifth non-comedy album, Lea DeLaria pays loving tribute to David Bowie with House of David (Ghostlight Records), 12 covers of the icon's greatest hits. Best known for her role as Boo on Orange Is the New Black, DeLaria has been a staple on the queer comedy scene for decades. What some fans of the show may not realize is that her vocal chops are as accomplished, warm, and powerful as her acting. In DeLaria's capable hands, Bowie's lyrics are repurposed with a fresh -- but totally sensical -- perspective, with his original pronouns and themes fitting perfectly into the new gender and sexuality constructs that she brings to each track (the best examples are found on "Boys Keep Swinging" and "Modern Love"). Everything here is familiar and comforting, eliciting the same warm memories for fans of these original hits. With a team of musicians backing her on this project (Kevin Hays on keys, Tony Scherr on bass and guitar, Steve Cardenas on guitar, Kenny Wollesen on drums, Seamus Blake on sax, Bashiri Johnson on percussion, and Shedrick Mitchell on Hammond B-3), DeLaria's cool, laid-back delivery transforms each song from sexy, dangerous rock & roll into big, bold standards. Funky jams like "Let's Dance" and "Modern Love," Bowie's most danceable output, are smoothed out and slowed down with a swinging scat and some gorgeous gospel (respectively), while "Jean Genie" becomes a full-blown exercise in sax magic. Her scat-off with Janis Siegel (the Manhattan Transfer) on "Suffragette City" twists Bowie's original wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am into a playful girl power duet, making it an early highlight on the collection. For fans of Bowie and jazz, this is a fun and fulfilling album. After hearing her interpretations of these songs, it's no surprise that the androgynous Bowie would be such an influence on her life. With House of David, DeLaria does justice to one of her biggest heroes. ~ Neil Z. Yeung