A canny choice of material means you’re as likely to find Selena Gomez as showtunes on Laura Benanti’s excellent debut studio album Laura Benanti
“I wish there was something I could do to make you smile again”
Tony Award-winner Laura Benanti has long been a performer I’ve loved, I’m always a sucker for such a legit soprano, so it was a bit of a surprise to clock that Laura Benanti is actually her debut studio album. Over the years she’s been a part of some top cast recordings and released a cracking live set, but with this release, she has created a marvellous album that feels equally at home in the cabaret club as it does reclining at home on your chaise longue with a Manhattan in hand.
It’s a varied selection of tracks to be sure, with musical references from Rufus Wainwright to Rosemary Clooney, Sondheim to Selena Gomez, Julie London to the Jonas Brothers. But remarkably, it all feels so beautifully, smoothly cohesive, a collection truly united by the interpretative skill of a genuinely engaged and engaging performer.
The aching resignation that suffuses ‘The Party’s Over’ from Bells Are Ringin’, one of the few out and out musical theatre moments is matched by the longing that floods through Lewis Capaldi’s ‘Someone You Loved’. Wainwright’s ‘Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk’ is transformed into a twinkling cautionary tale, knowledge which is carried forward into the hard-won wisdom of ‘Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me’.
Jazz-inflected arrangements ensure tracks like ‘What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life’ are so much more than easy listening, the reinterpretation of the JoBros’ ‘Sucker’ becomes something almost indecently slinkily sensual and I was further seduced by the teasing allure of this treatment of Bacharach and David’s ‘Wives and Lovers’. An album worth buying a chaise longue for.