Album Reviews: Here for You: Ballads for Broadway Impact / My Lifelong Love / Infinite Joy: The Songs of William Finn

This trio of album reviews covers Here for You: Ballads for Broadway Impact, My Lifelong Love and Infinite Joy: The Songs of William Finn

“People are swell but I’d rather be sailing”

Released in 2013 in support of Broadway Impact, an organisation of theatre artists and fans mobilised in support of marriage equality, Here for You: Ballads for Broadway Impact is a powerful collection of songs from Jonathan Reid Gealt. It is no secret that I love a ballad and having the likes of Kelli O’Hara, Adrienne Warren and Jeremy Jordan crooning and belting like this is just heaven. Jordan’s elegiac ‘Here For You’ with its gentle guitar is superb, as is the passion of Warren on ‘Home Away From Home’ but the standout track for me is O’Hara’s powerfully moving ‘Breathe’. Continue reading “Album Reviews: Here for You: Ballads for Broadway Impact / My Lifelong Love / Infinite Joy: The Songs of William Finn”

Album Reviews: Jonathan Reid Gealt – Whatever I Want It To Be / This Ordinary Thursday / Among Friends – The Words and Music of Richard Kates

This trio of album reviews spans the decades with Jonathan Reid Gealt – Whatever I Want It To Be, This Ordinary Thursday and Among Friends – The Words and Music of Richard Kates

“Nothing worth doing will ever come easy”

There’s something irrepressibly catchy about the music of Jonathan Reid Gealt as evidenced on this album Whatever I Want It To Be. From the cracking one-two of the driving pop of the title track sung with exciting energy by Jane Monheit and Alysha Umphress and the swinging delights of Loren Allred, Natalie Weiss and Luke Edgemon on the adorable ‘Boy Crazy’ to the more restrained but no less deeply felt emotion of Joshua Henry on ‘Let Me Try’ or Laura Osnes on the shimmeringly lovely ‘Lullaby’, this is some top-notch songwriting. Continue reading “Album Reviews: Jonathan Reid Gealt – Whatever I Want It To Be / This Ordinary Thursday / Among Friends – The Words and Music of Richard Kates”

Album Review: Dan & Laura Curtis – Overture

“When the playbill’s gone and your ego’s died, how you gonna feel”

I’m of course naturally inclined towards composing duo Dan & Laura Curtis as the quote that is proudly blazoned across their website is one of mine. It came from my review of their collection Love on 42nd Street which was a pocket-sized treat which stands in real contrast to Overture – The Music of Daniel and Laura Curtis, which brings together well over 20 Broadway and West End stars to fill a double-album’s worth of new material.

And their grandly orchestral ambition (not for nothing is the album called Overture) is well realised here. Divided into two ‘acts’, the pair stretch their songwriting muscle over a range of genres and subject matters but they’re most comfortable, and effective, when turning their hand to stirring string-laden balladry. The simple elegance of Rachel John’s ‘I Won’t Let You Go’ epitomises this beautifully with its soaring grace, surely a cabaret standard in the making. Continue reading “Album Review: Dan & Laura Curtis – Overture”

Album Review: Our First Mistake – The Songs of Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk (2010)

“It not a love story, not a coming of age
It’s not the kind of thing you put into a play.”

Good song-writing is good song-writing but it certainly helps if you have stellar interpreters of songs on hand to deliver what you’ve composed. And so it is on Our First Mistake – The Songs of Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk which finds the likes of Kelli O’Hara mourning the death of a relationship on the pragmatic ‘Not a Love Story’ and Natalie Weiss on the equally bruised ‘How To Return Home’, both performers fully inhabit their characters within these songs and you’re instantly given to a sense of excitement at what a Kerrigan/Lowdermilk musical might sound like.

They’re a US musical theatre writing team who, like so many others, are patiently waiting for their big break. Shows such as Henry & Mudge and The Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown have raised their profile and in the latter case, show real promise from the tracks included here in their relaxed pop sensibility that Waitress is currently working so well. Vienna Teng’s delicate piano balled ‘Say The Word’ is a gorgeous opener to the collection and the way its tentative romantic inclinations are met with Michael Arden’s ‘Run Away With Me’, its quiet emotion slowly building in confidence, whets the appetite beautifully. Continue reading “Album Review: Our First Mistake – The Songs of Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk (2010)”

Album Review: Thirteen Stories Down – The Songs of Jonathan Reid Gealt (2011)

“If you wanted me to, I’d take a trip to the sticks, and tie her up in the back of a van”

As you can see from the release date, Thirteen Stories Down – The Songs of Jonathan Reid Gealt isn’t a particularly new album but it is one that I’ve had waiting on my ‘to listen’ list for a long time. Produced by Sh-K-Boom, Gealt is a New York composer who has been bubbling under for a while now and as is the way of these things, opted to put out his debut album by calling some of his nearest and dearest Broadway pals to showcase his work.

And on this evidence it’s quite the body of work. Gealt feels like a natural song-writer, connecting emotion effortlessly to his music which puts him in good stead for the world of musical theatre and there are some compelling moments here. Adam Chanler-Berat’s ‘I Won’t Have to Anymore’ is a gorgeously moving tale of a young gay lad escaping an abusive home, Bridie Carroll’s ‘Expectations of a Man’ ought to be a lesbian anthem by now and Lauren Kennedy’s wry ‘Alex…You’re Fine!’ works well. Continue reading “Album Review: Thirteen Stories Down – The Songs of Jonathan Reid Gealt (2011)”

Album Review: Scott Alan Live

“And there it is…”

For a composer who hasn’t had a major show on over here, Scott Alan inspires an amazing amount of evangelical joy from his fans. This has come from a series of albums and concerts in which his songwriting has been showcased by a wide-ranging collection of Broadway and West End stars, culminating in a rapturously received residency at the St James Theatre a couple of months ago. I like his work, having previously reviewed a couple of his albums, but I haven’t been as ecstatic as some about it so I thought I’d go back to the ones I hadn’t listened to. 

His double album Live offers reworkings of many of his songs and mixes things up further by retaining many of his frequent collaborators but letting them loose on different songs, even switching up genders on some of them. It’s a great move – Natalie Weiss smashes the joyful ‘I’m A Star’, Laura Osnes wraps her delicate voice beautifully around ‘Now’ and Jeremy Jordan is charming as ever on ‘Please Don’t Let Me Go’ and that’s all in the opening five songs. The slightly indulgent length of the album means we don’t always maintain such intense quality over both discs plus bonus tracks.

Continue reading “Album Review: Scott Alan Live”