“I’m not like the other girls in the show”
Albums that are made up of selections from the catalogue of musical theatre writers, as opposed to straight soundtracks, tend to fit into a generally similar format, as my experience of listening to quite a few this year has borne out. And by and large, I can tell whether I am going to like it the album on the strength of the comedy song – for there is always a comedy song – and sure enough, when it came to Out Of Our Heads – The Music of Kooman and Dimond (alt iTunes link here), so this rule came to pass. Pleasingly enough, that song – Random Black Girl – comes in as the second track and is an absolute corker both musically tight and lyrically hilarious and thus overall, I really enjoyed the album.
Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond are something of an up and coming pair of US musical theatre writers with a handful of shows to their names – Golden Gate, Dani Girl and Homemade Fusion – that have been bubbling under whilst they build up their name and reputation. They seem on the right track as this CD, a selection of their songs, features a line-up of exciting Broadway, including at least one name that should be familiar to UK theatre-goers in the fabulous (baby) Patina Miller who headed up Sister Act here and is reprising the role back over the ocean.
‘Random Black Girl’ is an obvious highlight with its acutely observed lyrics about the trials of being a woman of colour working on Broadway – “every crowd must have at least one person, who doesn’t happen to be white” – and it works because Kooman has composed a big, ballsy tune and Dimond’s lyrics never forget to be highly witty and in the immortal words of Karen Walker, it’s funny cos it’s true. And of course Miller sings the hell out of it, making it an instant classic. Miller’s other track on the CD is another great song, a duet with Anderson Davis on ‘The Temp and the Receptionist’ – initially another entry in the comedy genre – its subtitle is “The Cubicle of Love” after all – but this tale of a burgeoning nerdish office romance actually has a giant heart and its warm emotion is guaranteed to put a huge smile on your face.
The blurb for the album states that these songs “blur the lines between musical theater [sic] and pop” but I have to say I think it feels very strongly a musical theatre album and it is the better for it. The song-writing here throws up many nuggets of stories as opposed to the more generic emotion that one might associate with pop songs – Matt Doyle’s falling in love tumbling for ‘Lucy’s Laugh’ is gorgeous, Anderson Davis’ beautifully solemn ‘Lost In The Waves’, the angst-ridden passion behind Kyle Dean Massey’s ‘Walking Without You’ – this is a classy set of songs. The mood is lightened by numbers like Christopher Sieber’s ‘In Excess’ or the mellower drivetime ambience of Chris Mann’s ‘Drift’.
There’s lots of fun to be had with Out Of Our Heads, the humour and tunefulness of so many of these songs makes it an irrepressible listen and one which I have happily replayed several times. Not having previously been aware of Kooman and Dimond, I was a tiny bit gutted to see that a production of their song cycle Homemade Fusion was actually part of this year’s Edinburgh Festival. The YouTube clips indicate just how much fun these songs are live ‘The Temp and the Receptionist’ and ‘Random Black Girl’ are naturally my favourites, and so I will definitely be on the lookout to see if it emerges anywhere in London and if anyone has Ms Miller’s number, could you ask her to nip back here for the night especially 😉 Until then, fans of new musical theatre could do a lot worse than investigating this CD.