Album Review: Idina Menzel – idina. / Kristin Chenoweth – The Art of Elegance

“I get along without you very well”

Whether through coincidence or design, the paths of original Elphaba and Glinda have intertwined once again as Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth released new albums on the same day. And it is interesting to see how their paths have diverged, both navigating the worlds of film and TV, music and of course theatre but in completely different ways, as reflected by this pair of records here. 

The largely self-penned idina. sees mine a confessional singer/songwriter route, utilising the pain of her divorce to present an emotive set of pop songs, more varied than perhaps you might expect from the power ballads for which she’s become known. To my mind, the country-ish tinge to tracks like Nothin’ In This World succeed more than the dance-oriented ‘Everybody Knows’ and the rockier edge of some tracks suits the emotional turmoil from whence they came. It’s a solid collection but I have to admit it isn’t one that particularly grabbed my attention as one that I want to return to any time soon.

More up my street is Chenoweth’s The Art of Elegance, reflecting her seeming preference for the classic side of musical theatre (it’s no accident that Chenoweth’s most recent Tony nomination came for a revival of On The Twentieth Century where Menzel’s was for new musical If/Then). And in returning to the Great American Songbook, you can just hear her gorgeous affinity for this material.

From the effortlessly lush arrangements of the orchestra to the relaxed confidence with which Chenoweth swings through standards like ‘The Very Thought Of You’, ‘Let’s Fall In Love’ and ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’, it’s just a delightful collection to listen to and crucially, especially for those of us who’ve heard countless stars record these songs, they feel fresh and revitalised. So whether you’re a fan of pop-rock, musical theatre or both, something wicked has definitely come.

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