Album review: Gavin Creel – Get Out (2012)

“I got a classic beat on my boom box stereo

I’m tipping down the street in Nowhereville, Ohio”

Gavin Creel’s third album (and last to date) is 2012’s self-published Get Out, something of a return to the variety of his first but also building on the maturity of the second, to create a cohesive pop album that effectively shows off a different side of this musical theatre star. It is tempting to say that you see more of Creel’s musical identity emerging on this record, and I can best describe that identity as a singer-songwriter take on Erasure.

And being a big Erasure fan since childhood (I know, right!), it means I found Get Out a very enjoyable record to listen to. There’s an indulgence of the folk-inspired, acoustic sound of the Quiet EP on tracks like ‘Sooner or Later’, the crunchy guitars of ‘U Can’t Ignore Me’ are a delight, and the lyrical playfulness of ‘Whitney Houston’ is wittily done indeed. And since Creel is so dreamy, I’ll forgive him the spoken word bit in ‘Get Out’ but boy ain’t no rapper.

EP Reviews: Gavin Creel – Quiet (2010) / Oliver Tompsett – Gravity (2013)

“You won’t be my angel”
I won’t be your guy

2010 EP Quiet by Tony winner Gavin Creel is really rather lovely indeed. Six tracks of acoustically-inclined folk pop co-written with Robbie Roth, it is a short but sweet album of real heart that emphasises the musicality of this musical theatre star, and also shows a wise progression from his first album. And if we’re to believe the lyrics here, that heart is a substantially bruised one which works out very well for fans of a melancholy ballad.

Such fans are particularly well served by the opening pair of tracks. The delicate ‘Green To Grey’ and the plaintive reality check of ‘Love Fell Down’ are desperately heartfelt and beautifully moving as Creel allows a husky tenderness to colour his voice to gorgeous effect. The collection is intelligently sequenced too, allowing a note of hope to creep in with the late realisation of ‘Small Words’ and the gentle humour of closer ‘Hot Ohio’.  Continue reading “EP Reviews: Gavin Creel – Quiet (2010) / Oliver Tompsett – Gravity (2013)”

Album review: Gavin Creel – Goodtimenation (2006)

“Most everyone goes the same way as you
Just love me as I go mine”

You gotta love a musical theatre performer who doesn’t take the easy route into a recording career by making a record of the same old standards and pop songs that have been recorded by so many before, no matter how heartfelt their interpretations. And the Tony- and Olivier-award winning Gavin Creel is one such chap, going down the self-penned route with his 2006 debut album Goodtimenation.

And it emerges as a solidly entertaining pop record whose only real weakness is that it perhaps tries to cover too many bases in the spread of songwriting styles. So we go from gorgeous Beatles-inspired choruses on ‘Rocket Ride’ to the ill-advised aping of Madonna’s rap from ‘American Life’, there’s a smattering of frat-boy summer pop on tracks like ‘Radio Lover’ and more cheery radio-friendly material like ‘Might Still Happen’. Continue reading “Album review: Gavin Creel – Goodtimenation (2006)”

Album Review: Hello, Dolly! (2017 New Broadway Cast Recording)

“One of your old favorite songs from way back when”

Seeing Hello, Dolly! at the Open Air Theatre still ranks as one of my all-time favourite theatrical experiences, tied up as it is with memories of my Aunty Mary, so it was only really practicality that held me back from booking to see the show on Broadway once the casting of Bette Midler was announced (heck, even Donna Murphy as her alternate was a seriously tempting proposition). But resist I did, in the anticipation of the inevitable Cast Recording that would offer a peek into Dolly’s new world.

It’s always a tricky thing, to embrace a new version of something so beloved and for me, every note, riff and chuckle of Barbra Streisand’s interpretation for the film soundtrack is ingrained on my memory. And so to hear someone else do it, no matter how well, always requires something of a readjustment. So it took me a couple of listens to really get into the groove of this album but in the new arrangements by Larry Hochman (orchestrations), and Don Pippin (vocal arrangements), the score feels familiar but fresh. Continue reading “Album Review: Hello, Dolly! (2017 New Broadway Cast Recording)”

The complete 71st Tony nominations

Best play
A Doll’s House, Part 2 by Lucas Hnath
Indecent by Paula Vogel
Oslo by JT Rogers
Sweat by Lynn Nottage

Best musical
Come from Away
Dear Evan Hansen
Groundhog Day the Musical
Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Best book of a musical
Come from Away by Irene Sankoff and David Hein
Dear Evan Hansen by Steven Levenson
Groundhog Day the Musical by Danny Rubin
Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 by Dave Malloy
Continue reading “The complete 71st Tony nominations”

CD Review: She Loves Me (2016 Broadway Cast Recording)

“Thank you, madam. Please call again. Do call again, madam“

Those outside of Broadway were lucky enough to have the opportunity to see She Loves Me last month as it became the first show there to be livestreamed (here’s my review) but if you missed it, never fear as a cast recording has been released which captures much of what made it an absolute pleasure to watch and to listen to. Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock’s Fiddler on the Roof may be better known but I’d argue that Roundabout’s revival makes a strong case for this to be the better show.

Orchestrated beautifully by Larry Hochman and played expertly under Paul Gemignani’s musical direction, it’s hard to imagine the show ever having sounded this lovely and fresh. From the thrill of the overture through the entirety of the score which allows pretty much every character to have their moment in the limelight, She Loves Me has a deceptive simplicity that seem disposable but its old-fashioned charms are revealed in all the splendour here, delivered perfectly by an ace cast.

Laura Benanti’s Amalia Balash leads from the front in great style. Showing us the bruised soul under the brash exterior, she combines comedy and pathos in expert measure, whether in the frothier joy of ‘No More Candy’, the warm humour of ‘Vanilla Ice Cream’ or the plaintive romance of ‘Dear Friend’. Matching her in the character stakes is the brilliant Kane Krakowski, whose Ilona is similarly gifted gossamer-light material which is infused with real depth, ‘I Resolve’ and the comic ‘A Trip To The Library’ thus emerge as real highlights too.

Then there’s Zachary Levi soaring through the title track with exuberant joy, Gavin Creel making caddishness oh-so-appealing in ‘Ilona’, Nicholas Barasch’s puppyish Arpad begging us to ‘Try Me’, there really isn’t a weak spot among the ensemble or across the cast recording. The warm glow that comes from the first instance of the refrain up top as customers enter the shop is carried effortlessly through the end and it is an utterly seductive journey. Basically perfect.

Review: She Loves Me, Studio 54 via BroadwayHD

“They all come here just for the mood”

It’s nice to know that you have good karma, sometimes at least, as I came very close to seeing She Loves Me on my last flying visit to Broadway, opting for Waitress instead at the last minute. So it was most gratifying to hear that She Loves Me was to become the first ever Broadway show to be live-streamed on BroadwayHD, following in the footsteps of the hugely successful NTLive enterprise (and that the show would be available for the following seven days on catch-up, making up for the time difference).

The merits (or otherwise) of live-streaming have long been debated and will likely continue to be so for years to come as circular arguments go round and round. But as long as you accept that no, a recording will never be as good as the live thing and yes, it is an amazing thing to have accessibility increased in this way, it seems to me that everyone is a winner, especially with a show on a limited engagement like She Loves Me, which closes at Studio 54 on 10th July. Speaking of which, you’ve only got until 7th July to catch it on BroadwayHD. Continue reading “Review: She Loves Me, Studio 54 via BroadwayHD”