Tim Draxl

Slide, February 18


Draxl res
Tim Draxl. Photo supplied.

We critics, overexposed to the good, the bad and the ugly, will die puzzling why the untalented X became a star and the gifted Y did not. Thankfully there is still time for the rest of the world to catch on to just how good Tim Draxl is, and to the fact that he is easily our best male cabaret artist.

Called Once Upon Another Time, this new show united Draxl with the expert musical director/pianist Daniel Edmonds and reunited him with the celebrated bassist Dave Ellis. The stark arrangement of the title song (by Sara Bareilles) immediately reminded one of his interpretative gifts, while its successors revealed his breadth. Among them were a delightful Falling in Love Again and an even better Three Coins in the Fountain, which perfectly exemplified his sophistication in weighting certain words and making others buoyant, aided by his accurate, flexible and attractive voice.

A superb arrangement of Don McLean’s Vincent loaded this homage to Van Gogh with a poignancy the original lacked, Draxl’s delivery verging on the theatrical without quite transgressing. In an astutely assembled program a groovy Peel Me A Grape was among several songs to show his lighter side, also evident in his ease in his own skin before an audience (even if some ‘tween-song chats went on too long).

Equally impressive was the constancy of tonal quality across his range and at all dynamic levels, virtues that shone especially on Nobody Needs To Know, The Man That Got Away and Meadowlark, the latter having a singular urgency.

Yet as good as Draxl was he can still improve. A glib Mack the Knife missed the lyric’s menace. Sam Smith’s Lay Me Down seemed a dodgy choice, although he lent it sufficient light and shade to almost save it, and You Don’t Know What Love Is and As Long As He Needs Me could have benefitted from more of his usual trademark restraint. But ultimately the little flaws were washed away in a high tide of excellence.