Sarah Dooley @ The Gallery at Le Poisson Rouge

GREENWICH VILLAGE, NY—Not to be confused with the popular author of the same name, the budding singer-songwriter Sarah Dooley was raised in Valparaiso, Indiana. As a child, she played piano and violin in the school orchestra and as an avid journal-keeping teenager began writing pop songs. Reaching adulthood, she relocated to New York in 2008 to study playwriting. This training helped her write and star in And Sarah, a mockumentary-style web series that was featured in the New York Times‘ “Freakonomics” blog and attracted more than 160,000 views on YouTube. Inspired by the poetic introspections of pop balladeers like Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple, the Brooklyn-based artist gradually realized that performing songs was her ideal storytelling vehicle. She recorded a debut album, Stupid Things, at her alma mater, Columbia University. The disc was released last month.

With colored streamers across the stage and throughout the room with many balloons on the floor, Sarah Dooley enjoyed an album release party on Feb. 10 at The Gallery at Le Poisson Rouge. She even supplied peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for her guests. In a scant 35-minute solo performance, Dooley proved to be an accomplished singer and pianist. She sang and played as impressively as the best cabaret artists in town. The most refreshing aspect of her performance, however, was her lyrical wit and whimsical storytelling. Her charming songs had comical musings on courting a lover by watching The Goonies together and excusing youthful behaviors like going gay for a day.

Several forgotten-lonely-wallflower songs about unrequited love or being scorned by an ex-lover were more reflective and sometimes more assertive, but placed within the context of the other bouncy pop songs did not take the concert to a dark or angry space. Rather, the overall message seemed to be that we make lemonade from life’s lemons and enjoy the reward of good times through nurturing relationships. Maybe that was emphasized by the large turnout of friends that came out to cheer her on. Dooley’s joyful personality and pop songs cheered back.


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