Actress Minnie Driver proves herself
Paradise, Boston, Nov. 23, 2004
By Jeffrey B. Remz
BOSTON - Actress Minnie Driver is not facing a unique problem in launching her musical career. In fact, it must have been entirely expected - the potential skepticism from fans and critics. Is the release of her debut, "Everything I've Got In My Pocket" (Rounder), some sort of vanity project. Is she for real in putting out her music and performing it live? And the answer most definitely is yes for both CD and during her hour-long concert. Don't expect to see the British actress, who was in "Good Will Hunting" and "Return to Me," be on the next edition of "The Golden Throats," the Rhino release of actors like William Shatner attempting to be singers, but failing miserably. Driver mines the same turf as Dido and Sarah McLaughlin on her CD, which is a more laid back affair. She sounds good and sings well, although the material - Driver wrote almost all of it - tends to sound a bit similar at times on disc. In concert, Driver makes the music come alive. She infuses the songs with a great deal of emotion. While inexperienced on the concert stage, Driver did not rush the songs, but delivered them with the requisite vocal intensity and speed. A particular highlight was her version of Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart." She slowed it down a lot, made it far less anthemic sounding and far more spare musically. A cello, for example, on "Ruby Adeline," added a nice nuance. Driver also showed she could rock, perhaps to less good effect, but the rock songs (she closed with the Split Enz's "I Got You") were welcome turns when she would rev it up a bit and let her band fly more. Doing so also made for good pacing of the concert. Driver also possessed an easy going stage presence, responding to the crowd of about 260 people on occasion and explaining how the songs came about. She joked enough and showed enough ease to make it clear she enjoyed herself. Driver certainly took a risk in putting out music and touring behind it. But she showed this is not some ego project, but instead an artist crossing genres to good effect.