Michael Sackler-Berner occasionally lands a gig as an extra on television. Like in 2009, when he played "Band Member #1" on an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent about a bunch of loft-dwelling, homicide-prone bohemians in Brooklyn.
In his few seconds onscreen, it's easy to tell Sackler-Berner's comfortable in the role. That's because in real life he is a Brooklyn-based musician -- minus the murder.
And he's no extra. Last month (Feb. 16), the singer-songwriter celebrated the digital release of two new singles, "Yes I Do" and "Shimmer and Shine," with a packed show at Joe's Pub in Manhattan's East Village. His band featured class acts Liberty DeVitto, Ben Stivers, Kevin Jenkins and David Mansfield, and ran through a stacked set of heart-felt originals. (The singles were officially released on iTunes last week.)
Sackler-Berner, who's been compared to Jason Mraz and Ray LaMontagne, among others, consistently crafts infectious, high-energy pop songs, with thoughtful lyrics and layers of inventive musical emotion. Perhaps taking his own advice, he sings, "Time's too short to spend your mind/wasted focused on wastin' time/with the world this wide/and a mind so fine/you've got to shimmer and shine."
And with a sincere stage presence, these shining qualities only brighten in a live setting. At Joe's Pub in February, Sackler-Berner seamlessly inhabited the roles of full-band conductor and solo-acoustic crooner. And at the show, as on the recorded tracks, the songs were as familiar as they were surprising. On "Yes I Do," one of the new tracks, a bit of impassioned Americana suddenly gives way to a fresh breath of electro-reggae and just as quickly returns to more-familiar folky territory. Time's too short to stay in one place for too long.
Sackler-Berner will perform at The Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, N.Y. on May 21.