BWW CD Reviews: Jinkx Monsoon's THE INEVITABLE ALBUM is Irresistible
Jinkx Monsoon's cleverly titled debut solo album, THE INEVITBLE ALBUM, isn't so called just because she was crowned on season five of RuPaul's Drag Race. The title also references the fact that ever since she was a child, she always dreamed of recording an album. Inspired by Bette Midler's THE DIVINE MISS M, the torch song albums of Marlene Dietrich and Peggy Lee, and a handful of contemporary female performers like Amanda Palmer, Regina Spektor, and Lady Rizo, Jinkx Monsoon's THE INEVITABLE ALBUM is a triumphant celebration of Jinkx Monsoon's gratifying personality and the delectable cabaret-inspired flavors that make this sensational performer tick.
The irresistible and altogether decadent album is mostly made-up of original songs penned for Jinkx Monsoon by her music partner Richard Andriessen. The pair also got to work with Fred Schneider (of the B-52's) on the album, and he makes guest appearances on two of the tracks. The end product is 15 dazzling and dizzying tracks that come across as both a homogenous and eclectic blend of music. The heavily bluesy and jazzy aesthetic of the traditional torch song can be found on almost every track of the album, tying it all together well. Yet, the numbers that break that mold are snappy, pick-me-up performances that leave the listener in awe of Jinkx Monsoon's ability to share her spirit so easily across the medium of recorded music. There is a certain joie de vivre and ambience captured on the recording that truly makes the listening experience feel as if she is signing live for you and directly to you.
All of the songs standalone individually and as a cohesive whole, making it hard to single out favorites on the album. Standouts, for me, include the gutsy and perfectly phrased re-tooling of Stephen Sondheim's "The Ladies Who Lunch," which is sung as "Ladies In Drag" on this album. With all the bite and bitterness that Elaine Stritch used to make the song an instant classic on Broadway, Jinkx Monsoon spins it to make it a melancholic but endearing anthem for drag performance. "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" serves as a fun, toe-tapping ode to sugar daddies and the young, insatiable lads and lasses who love them. The effervescing and bouncy "The Bacon Shake," which features Fred Schneider, is delightfully zany. "What About Debbie," a gospel revival musicalization of Joan Cusak's monologue from Addams Family Values is innovative and addictive. I find myself turning to this tuneful delight over and over again. "A Song to Come Home To" is delicate and sweet, showing off Jinkx Monsoon's soft and heartwarmingly romantic side. This evocative number ensures that we cannot deny the soul under the wigs and make-up.
Jinkx Monsoon's THE INEVITABLE ALBUM radiates with sheer talent, sophistication, and a carefree spirit that doesn't take itself too seriously. From the frenzied, almost polka-ized rendition of Radiohead's "Creep" to the country and western tinged "Ballad of Johnny and Jack," Jinkx Monsoon's album offers a little something for every taste and is a sheer joy to listen to on repeat. You'll sing along, dance along, and laugh along. This is the kind of debut album that other artists dream of having, and it will be cherished long after Jinkx Monsoon celebrates the 30th anniversary of this album's release.