I missed my Rave Review Tuesday last week because I haven’t been a good reader lately and I haven’t watched anything new. This remains the case once again this week (I’ve been watching a lot of Gilmore Girls, alright), but I do have something different to review this week.
The trend in Broadway from my observations (not that I’m an expert) has been for performers to release live albums. So far I’ve gotten Norbert Leo Butz’s first, Aaron Tveit’s, and Laura Benanti’s. They have all been really fun and incredible to listen to and have made me appreciate them as performers even more.
I’m a huge fan of the live thing because it mimics the feel of a live performance. Obviously, there is a huge difference in not seeing it live, but there is an intimacy and a better understanding of a performer through hearing them sing and provide little anecdotes as they go. I suppose it has to do a lot with the comfort level and esteem of being on stage in front of an audience rather than locked up in a recording studio- and lack of auto tune!
Brief interlude- why can’t we accept things as they are? Why can’t we allow performers the little mistakes they make or people the imperfections they have? Isn’t there beauty in the fact that these are humans doing extraordinary things in their human way? The more “reality” we want, the less real things become and it takes away from the integrity of performing.
Thankfully, Kristin Chenoweth’s album, Coming Home, which dropped yesterday, is raw entertainment in its purest form. However, any “mistakes” that she may have made in her singing are not apparent to my ears, which is partly because I have an untrained ear, but also because she is a seamless performer who is in absolute control of her talent.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Kristin’s and even though I love seeing her on Broadway, my absolute favorite medium is to see her perform live as herself. I’ve been to a ton of really enjoyable concerts over the years by various singers, which has included a lot of dancing and dramatic background thematics, but it takes someone very special to be able to stand up in front of an audience with a handful of musicians and just sing, and for that to be interesting. Very few artists can get away with this type of concert these days- Adele comes to mind- and Kristin is the absolute best at this (of course I’m biased.)
Live performances best reveal the nature of a performer and Kristin’s album was recorded in her home town, which adds to the emotions emanating from all of her song choices and the descriptions she offers as a preface. Every so often, you can hear there are moments where she gets choked up and overwhelmed, but if anything, it only lends to the performances. When Kristin sings, you can tell that she connects to the song, to music, and to performing in general, which again, is unlike many current performers. I don’t mean to mock or put down other singers, but I just want to magnify this exceptional talent.
I’ve been listening to the album while doing various things around the kitchen and typing up this blog post and it’s funny to hear my mom throw in her opinions. For one thing, she keeps saying “wow,” then she compared her to Madeline Kahn, which is funny because Kristin will be starring in a role Madeline Kahn originated on Broadway in On The Twentieth Century. Even my dad chimed in and offered, “Menowitz can really sing” (he changes the name for everything). I think that’s the best way I can show how astounding this album is.
Many of these songs I’ve heard from previous concerts or albums and I’m so happy to have them in my collection. I dare you to listen to “Coloring Book” and “Hard Times” and not getting something stuck in your eye. Listen, listen, listen, and then demand more live albums.
As a young professional attempting to find my way in this world, I do wish it were obvious to see what I am supposed to do in this world. With Kristin Chenoweth, at least in one facet, it is overwhelmingly evident that she was meant to perform and we are very fortunate to experience it.