Crikey, how I loved Heather Headley’s Broadway My Way, one of the best showtunes albums of recent years
“I know that everything I need is in here”
I was unreasonably peeved at Heather Headley for a little while, taking her casting in the West End debut of The Bodyguard as a slight on UK talent, for which I was rewarded her not appearing when I saw the show! But on seeing this clip of her smashing ‘Memory’ out of the park, I realised I’d played myself in not trying to see the show again to witness her talent live.
The next best thing is her 2018 album Broadway My Way, which I’ve belatedly got round to listening to. And once again more fool me, as it is probably one of the best musical theatre albums I’ve had the privilege of hearing. A collection of songs both old and new, it is an absolute masterclass in reinterpreting material to make it so closely fit a voice as to suggest it was written just for it.
You see this mostly keenly on two songs, both better known as duets. She effortlessly takes on all the power and heart of Elphaba and Glinda to deliver a magisterial, soulful take on Wicked’s ‘For Good’. And in the album’s highlight, she wraps Matilda’s ‘My House’ in a blanket of such velvety warmth that practically reinvents the song. It’s the tenderest of upliftings but one which is sensational and though there’s no room for the escapologist (the bit that always makes me cry), the dynamic power she shows in the final third is a thing of wonder.
Elsewhere, ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ shimmers under a gospel-hued treatment, that incredible control over the dynamics of her voice pays such respect to Whitney’s ‘All The Man I Need’ and if you think you don’t need another version of Waitress’ ‘She Used To Be Mine’, then you’re wrong. And so was I, please forgive me Heather, and come back to the UK soon!