The first time I saw Kate Dimbleby, we were in an ex-morgue up in a glossy part of North London. She sat me down on a sofa and lamented to all who would hear about the many failings of men. That was a few years ago during her show I‘m A Woman and her latest outing – about the life, loves and travails of singer/songwriter Dory Previn – is no less of a memorable joy, even if it does have far less audience interaction.

From an outsider’s perspective, spending the night listening to the works of an Irish-American woman who hasn’t troubled the charts for half a century and who is perhaps better known for her ill-fated first marriage and unfortunate mental illness shouldn’t be this much fun. Previn may be to some a footnote in her more famous husband Andre’s history but, as Dimbleby amply demonstrated in Beware Of Young Girls: The Songs Of Dory Previn at Crazy Coqs, the recently deceased singer-songwriter left behind a body of work which is very much of its time but are still very relevant.

Take for example, The Lady With The Braid. Released in the age of free love,it is an epic piece of post-coital poetry from the female perspective which still has resonance in these more sexually-liberated times. And then there’s Mythical Kings And Iguanas. With its talk of astral walks and riding comet tails in search of magic rings (did the LSD get passed to the left or the right back then?), it is as sweetly hippy-dippy as any track released in 1971 yet Dimbleday’s interpretation entwines its ethereal motifs with the real-life stories of Previn’s dire mental state.

As well as exploring Previn’s life through her lyrics, Dimbleby leans heavily on her subject’s biographies. In details as painful and evocative as her songs, Previn lays bare in those books the inspiration behind the tunes like Lemon Haired Ladies and Beware Of Young Girls. Those two are fine numbers in their own right but can be seen as allusions to her failed marriage to Previn, a relationship which ended after he impregnated the much-younger and yellow-haired Mia Farrow. By recounting the tales of slow realisation, abandonment and institutionalisation between and within Previn’s songs, Dimbleby gives the casual Sixties and Seventies melodies a darker tone befitting a life which was no joyride.

As I’m A Woman proved, Dimbleby has the vocal chops to barnstorm with the best of them. In place of an out-and-out footstomper – something that was never going to be on the cards given the source material – the chanteuse gives a layered performance which celebrates a fellow singer’s art and struggles both in the worlds of showbiz and beyond. Melancholic moments are never far from the script but neither are they overly dwelt upon. Moreover, there is an uplifting sense throughout that for every door that slammed shut for this tragic woman, another opened.  This is perhaps evidenced in the final act of both the show and Previn’s life as Dimbleby elegantly unfurls how her subject finally found happiness: her second marriage to actor and artist Joby Baker lasted almost three decades until her death on Valentine’s Day, 2012.

Those wondering about the difference between a jukebox musical and a songbook biography like Beware Of Young Girls should book a pew here next time Dimbleby is in town. The chosen structure of mixing songs and snatches from the biographies envelops the listener in an emotional maelstrom punctuated by broken hearts and breakdowns. Dimbleby breathes fresh life into not just Previn’s repertoire but her history and reputation. The show frequently dances with darkness with the blackest moments of Previn’s life laid untarnished for all to digest. This is to the credit of both Dimbleby, her audience and this mature production which is unafraid to take risks.

Beware Of Young Girls: The Songs Of Dory Previn. Performed by Kate Dimbleby. Crazy Coqs, London W1F 7ED. 21 February.‎