BWW CD Reviews: Jarrod Spector's A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS: Live at 54 BELOW's Frills Don't Thrill
After almost a decade of playing Frankie Valli in JERSEY BOYS on Broadway, Jarrod Spector took to the stage at 54 BELOW and gifted New York audiences with a cabaret concert that charts the progression of the popular tenor voice in music from the early 1900s to the present day. Recorded in November 2013, this cabaret performance is now immortalized on Broadway Record's release of Jarrod Spector's album A LITTLE HELO FROM MY FRIENDS - Live at 54 BELOW.
When it comes to Broadway Record's intimate Live at 54 BELOW cabaret series, I am hard-pressed to think of an album I don't really like. Unfortunately, Jarrod Spector's album falls into this category. Listening to the CD several times, I just couldn't get into the album. In between songs, his banter is informational, but it lacks that personality that makes other entries in the series so endearing. At first, I found myself thinking he was too self-aggrandizing, but that's really not it. In actuality, I think I would have preferred him to be more self-aggrandizing, as that may have made his banter all the more interesting on the disc.
The songs that Jarrod Spector selected for the album are to simultaneously break out of the Frankie Valli mold, while embracing the legacy of popular tenors that Frankie Valli is a proud member of. Performing such exciting numbers as The Beatle's "With a Little Help From My Friends," George Michael's "Faith," the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations," Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," Queen's "Somebody to Love," "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (a ballad written for Meatloaf, but made popular by Celine Dion), Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl," and U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," I was expecting to be blown away by this recording. Jarrod Spector's voice is in great shape and aptly soars through the pieces, but I just wasn't ever drawn in by it. These performances, while technically solid, just don't have that inescapable urgency that demands listeners attend to every note, word, and breath. Sadly, this makes the disc, for a lack of a better word, boring.
Adam Ben-David's Musical Direction and Arrangements aren't enough to thrill listeners either. The mash-up of Bruno Mars' "When I Was Your Man" with "Faith" and "Good Vibrations" sounds more exciting on paper and as a concept than it plays out in reality. Out of his arrangements, the most endearing are the mash-up of "Una Furtiva Lagrima" and "Somebody to Love" and the mash-up of "Uptown Girl" and "Walk Like a Man."
For fans of Jarrod Spector, I am sure this album will prove to be a must have. I am certain that those who attended his cabaret concerts in November 2013 will find plenty to enjoy on the album as well. For the rest of us, this record serves as a great indicator of Jarrod Spector's potential and makes us long for him to put his vocal aptitude to better work. Hopefully, Jarrod Spector will be featured on an upcoming original cast album or release a solo album of new songs so those of us who aren't familiar with him can have something more enthralling to listen to.
Jarrod Spector returns to 54 BELOW on March 31 at 9:30 p.m. to celebrate the release of his album. Tickets are $30 - $40 cover plus a $25 minimum. To purchase tickets, visit http://www.54Below.com. Tickets on the day of performance after 2:00pm are only available by calling (646) 476-3551.
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