BWW CD Reviews: NOW. HERE. THIS. (Original Cast Recording) is Empowering and Uplifting

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BWW CD Reviews: NOW. HERE. THIS. (Original Cast Recording) is Empowering and UpliftingWith [TITLE OF SHOW] receiving mostly glowing reviews for its London premiere, I couldn't help but hope that the creative team that took the quirky, meta-musical from Off-Off-Broadway, to Off-Broadway, to Broadway (Jeff Bowen, Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff, Michael Berresse, and Larry Pressgrove) are taking a few moments to arrive at the intersection of Now (not the past or future), Here (exactly where they are), and This (whatever it is they're doing) to be truly present and enjoy this moment of their lives a little more clearly. All of this brought me around to the cast album for their sophomore show NOW. HERE. THIS., which was funded by a highly successful Kickstarter campaign. Living in Houston, I completely missed the premiere of this show; however, everything that made [TITLE OF SHOW] so endearing is present and improved upon in the semi-autobiographical musical's cast album that is as entertaining as it is empowering and uplifting.

The plot of NOW. HERE. THIS. finds Jeff Bowen, Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, and Heidi Blickenstaff in a natural history museum. Together they explore the evolution of all of humanity and their friendship as they recount both their self-deprecatingly embarrassing and inspiring exploits and adventures. The album runs for roughly 64 minutes, giving hysterical and poignant insight into the full 90-minute production. Just as "Die Vampire, Die!" from [TITLE OF SHOW] strikes a nerve with its theme of pursing one's dreams, every track on NOW. HERE. THIS. stirs in listeners a yearning to embrace every moment of life as something purposefully worthwhile, regardless of whether it is an experience we cherish or abhor.

Jeff Bowen's music is remarkably enchanting and highly memorable. Each tuneful melody is a bona fide earwig that longs to implant itself into the subconscious and consciousness of listeners. After just one listen, you'll be able to hum at least a handful of these songs. With repeat listening, audiences will gleefully embrace the infectious melodies as a part of their hearts and even souls. Likewise, Jeff Bowen has also perfectly crafted motivating and touching lyrics for these catchy tunes. Improving on the rawness of "Die, Vampire Die!" he cleverly lays every emotion bare on the tear inducing, gorgeous song "Golden Palace." He deftly takes his skill for creating an 11 o'clock number a few steps further than the plaintive sensitivity of "A Way Back To Then" with the sublimely impactful "This Time." NOW. HERE. THIS. is anything but a sophomore slump, as Jeff Bowen's artistry has only gotten better.

Vocally, on this album, the loveable quartet is as brilliant as ever. Each one charms with palpable charisma as they sing this score with a fervent and inspired passion. Jeff Bowen, Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, and Heidi Blickenstaff fill the album's 17 delightful tracks with opulent harmonizing and expressive passages that are powerfully moving and exciting. I deeply love every song on the disc, but my favorites are the funny and thought provoking "Dazzle Camouflage," the striking honesty in both "I Rarely Schedule Nothing" and "That'll Never be Me," the heartwarming "Then Comes You," the carefree comedy of "That Makes Me Hot," the gut-wrenching narrative and heartrending sincerity of "Golden Palace," and the breathtaking beauty of "This Time."

Larry Pressgrove expertly conducts the small band with tangible gusto, capturing the enriching, inspirational, and appealingly eclectic score in all of its enthralling glory. Under his baton, the band adroitly plays the music with dexterous grace.

Just as [TITLE OF SHOW] has found lasting life with its cast album and successful regional and international productions, listening to NOW. HERE. THIS. (Original Cast Recording) makes me hopeful that this brilliant show will find similar victories. The album offers everything that fans of [TITLE OF SHOW] would expect from this creative team, but it also resonates on an even deeper and more personal level. Additionally, NOW. HERE. THIS. leaves me excitedly anticipating a third musical from the mind of Jeff Bowen and company.

Ghostlight Records released NOW. HERE. THIS. (Original Cast Recording) on December 18, 2012. The album can be purchased from Ghostlight Records, iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.

For information about other theatrical recording releases, click here.

Image courtesy of Ghostlight Records.

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