But not only virgin: rich and captivating. Although Luker and Wilfert have distinctive voices when they sing separately, they can sound almost identical when they sing together. (They have the same teacher by voice.) Listening to plays, even they couldn’t always tell who was who. In duets like “You’re My Best Friend” (the charming opening machine) and “Isn’t it better?” ? ”(A song by Kander and Ebb’s torch, turned into a hymn of sisterly support here) something sublime happens, because the two voices, mixing so closely, seem to multiply, even when they merge.
This effect is in full swing at the end of the album, an unexpected pairing of Patty Griffin̵
Which feels just right. No matter how strong the album is – Thalken’s five poetic settings are especially wonderful – it inevitably comes wrapped in a shroud of loss. I don’t mean just the loss of Luker herself. Her voice (and that of Wilfort) is gradually being pushed out of the musical theater as classically trained sopranos give way to the kind so greedily described in “Not Funny” that Kelly O’Hara will sing at Tuesday’s concert. Most of the new works are written for the belt.
The greater loss, of course, is personal. Many of us, grieving for a loved one, are grateful for every part of their voice that can be saved in a phone message or video. This is not Berstein’s situation. He has to listen to a lot of Luker albums. The problem is that while they calm down, they are also devastating – especially in All Girls, this last mix, with Griffin’s painful lyrics: “Watch how you bend me / Watch how you send me / Watch how you end me. “
In any case, the albums are what Luker gave us, not him. More than her public voice, what Berstein misses the most after 20 years of marriage is her personal voice: the one he heard in car rides, harmonized with the hits of the 70’s on the radio.
“It’s just me and the radio now,” he says.
By comparison, the rest of us are lucky. Listening to All the Girls, Luker’s somehow funniest and wisest album, we keep her singing with us forever.
Rebecca Luker and Sally Wilfert
“All the girls”
Becca: A night of stories and songs in memory of Rebecca Luker
May 4 at 7:30 p.m.