BWW CD Reviews: Leslie Odom Jr.'s LESLIE ODOM JR. Gives All the Heart

BWW CD Reviews: Leslie Odom Jr.'s LESLIE ODOM JR. Gives All the Heart
Cover art courtesy of Boderlight Entertainment, Inc.

In the summer of 2013, Leslie Odom Jr. took a risk to progress his career with a solo album. He turned to Kickstarter and received copious donations from his loyal fans. Funded with almost $11,000 more than his original goal, Leslie Odom Jr., who had caught our attention on SMASH and in LEAP OF FAITH (among other notable projects), entered the studio. Now, fans and newcomers alike can revel in the glory of his decadently jazzy debut solo album, and after just one listen, I'm sure that you'll be hooked.

In my opinion, one of SMASH's biggest flaws was waiting until the end of season one to introduce audiences to Leslie Odom Jr.'s voice. I still remember the chills I got when he launched into "Stand" during the 14th episode of the first season. There is a crisp smoothness to Leslie Odom Jr.'s voice that is entirely fascinating, and his self-titled debut album puts his instrument on full display. The jazzy record engages listeners and fills our ears with radiant joy. Moreover, the palpable energy and spirit in Leslie Odom Jr.'s vocals is sure to brighten any day and leave your heart singing.

Each of the nine tracks is performed flawlessly. From the opening percussion and catchy bass riff on "Look for the Silver Lining," we sit comfortably in Leslie Odom Jr. palm. Once he starts delicately singing his rendition of this number from ZIP, GOES A MILLION, we get lost in the positive lyrics and his cheerful yet smoky vocal styling. His take on "Joey, Joey, Joey" from THE MOST HAPPY FELLA makes the old classic new again, and the passion in his sultry vocals are entirely captivating. Hailing from the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Leslie Odom Jr. tackles "Cheer Up Charlie" and turns it into a lush and gorgeous ode to uplift the souls of the downhearted. His interpretations of "Love Look Away" from FLOWER DRUM SONG, "I Know That You Know" from OH, PLEASE!, and "Sarah" from THE CIVIL WAR all delight as well.

A true surprise on the disc is how well "The Guilty Ones" from SPRING AWKAENING works as a jazz number, which makes his stirringly haunting recording of the song the absolute best I have ever heard. His cover of Paul Simon's "Song for the Asking" is nothing short of breathtaking, especially with vocal support from Nicolette Robinson. The vocal harmonies present on this particular track are absolutely stunning. Closing the album is a riveting, melancholic version of "Wild is the Wind" from WILD IS THE WIND.

Not taking a page from the fictional musical BOMBSHELL, Leslie Odom Jr. gives us all the heart with his self-titled debut release; however, he still leaves us clamoring for more. In essence, Leslie Odom Jr. cleverly introduces us to a void that we didn't even know we had. The appetite of listeners are whetted for a second solo album, and we will rapturously listen to these nine tracks on repeat until we get more morsels of vocal brilliance from Leslie Odom Jr.

Borderlight Entertainment, Inc. released Leslie Odom Jr.'s LESLIE ODOM JR. digitally on August 12, 2014. The album can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby. For more information about Leslie Odom Jt. And his upcoming projects, please follow him on Twitter.

For information about other theatrical recording releases, click here.

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