Off camera, on stage

Minnie Driver, Paradise Lounge, August 23, 2007
By JIM SULLIVAN  |  August 27, 2007
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SMOOTH: Minnie Driver sings calmly.

“Brian, dump that bitch!” sang Minnie Driver at the Paradise Lounge a week ago Thursday. It wasn’t a line from one of her songs but a moment of improv. She was speaking of a loud, complaining chat she’d overheard at a recent concert, and of her desire, at the time, to dial up the subject of the scorn, Brian, and sing that line to him.

That was about as fiery as Driver got in this show supporting her new Seastories (Zoë/Rounder). The actress-turned-singer was beguiling and, at times, on target. “Only you think I’m in the public eye,” she mused at one point. “I just think I’m bumbling along like everyone else.” She talked about busking on Boston Common when she was filming Good Will Hunting. And for an hour, she sang in the key of pleasant, smartly backed by a two-guitar/piano/stand-up bass/drums quintet.

Driver, who sported a plunging floral dress, lets her rough side show as an actress — consider her as Eddie Izzard’s duplicitous con-artist wife in The Riches. As a singer-songwriter, she keeps the contours smooth. The set’s opener, “Mockingbird, was buoyed by a hooky, thumping bass line, and there were a number of lilting refrains over which to linger — “If love is the answer you seek/You’re asking the wrong questions” in “Stars & Satellites.” Driver was a singer before she her acting career took off, and she’s got a fluid, silky voice. She likes textured songs and mature subjects — her father’s love and support, the way an ex’s dead mother still haunts him, the human need for shelter from the storm. There were few climactic peaks or plunging valleys, just a calming sound drawing from country, jazz, and pop.

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