The new record from Melissa Errico is called “Out of the Dark,” and it came out of the time she spent at home with her husband, ESPN tennis commentator Patrick McEnroe, and their three daughters.
The Broadway star refers to her new album as “The Film Noir Project,” a reference to a style of moviemaking popular in the 1940s.
Noir means “black” in French, and it was in France that critics first used the term after they admired a particular visual style in Hollywood films — often shot at night.
What’s surprising is how this genre has been given new meaning three quarters of a century after the first of these movies hit theaters after World War II.
Love, desire, and mystery, with more than a hint of danger — that’s why Film Noir still fascinates us.
Many of these titles show characters at the mercy of fate.
“It’s a sensibility where you feel your life isn’t completely in your control,” Errico said.
It’s a theme that resonates more loudly now after we’ve all lived through a pandemic.
“The music is illuminating a turmoil inside of a person, a loneliness, and a grappling with how trapped sometimes we can feel,” she said.
In one song, “Angel Eyes,” she asks: “Ever have the feeling that you’re close to losing your mind?”
Your answer might be different now than before, after what we’ve all been through.
Errico fell in love with the genre as a college student, then rediscovered Film Noir during late nights in lockdown while the other members of her family slept.
“It was mommy’s time,” she said. “It was a fantasy time. It was evocative, glamorous, and then very moving.”
Channel surfing one night, she happened upon “Out of the Past” and then started watching the noir classic, “Nightfall.”
She followed those up with “Double Indemnity” and “Laura,” and tat’s how we came to find her rehearsing that movie’s classic theme song at 54 Below.
“Laura is the face in the misty light,” she reminds us in song, and the result is what she calls, “a distant mirror of the times we are living in right now.”
The power and clarity of Errico’s singing is extraordinary and serves as a thrilling reminder of the power of Film Noir, but also of how a great singer can keep getting better.
You can hear for yourself at her live show Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
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