Click, click, click: the many parts of the singer, songwriter and pianist Tony DeSare, who might be described as two parts young Sinatra to one part Billy Joel, meshed seamlessly in Tuesday’s opening performance of his new show, “Making Love Songs,” at 54 Below.
Mr. DeSare is a less aggressive performer than either of those forerunners. Unlike Sinatra he doesn’t impose his mood swings or dictate new rules to the standards he performs along with originals. As a pianist he lacks Mr. Joel’s supercharged kineticism, although he approached that intensity with a boogie-woogie fantasia based on “Great Balls of Fire,” in which he even kicked the keys with his right heel. Gentler and less specific than Mr. Joel’s compositions, Mr. DeSare’s original pop love songs are plain well-made ballads in a flexible soft-rock mode.
One crucial difference between Mr. DeSare’s new show and his previous New York cabaret appearances is the ease he has developed in making transitions from one aspect to another. That confidence has ramped up his likability factor, which is as steady as that of the more boisterous Michael Bublé, who currently rules this musical territory. You would never describe Mr. DeSare, however, as the class cutup. In his soul he is a polite crooner and a very good one.
The three other musicians in his quartet — Edward Decker on guitar, Steve Doyle on bass, and Mike Klopp on drums — give every up-tempo number an extra kick, as Mr. Decker’s hard-edged strumming and Mr. DeSare’s piano crisply segue into each other. “Somebody Loves Me” and “Just in Time,” in particular, swing hard and fast.
“How I Will Say I Love You,” the most striking of Mr. DeSare’s original songs, is a touching, abject vow of devotion stated calmly in words that are both protective and abject:
Break the rules, I’ll bend them around you
Play the fool, I would never know
Break my heart, I’d still be glad I’d found you
For Mr. DeSare the hard work that transforms promise into success is paying off.
Tony DeSare performs through Oct. 13 at 54 Below, 254 West 54th Street, Manhattan; (866) 468-7619, 54below.com.