SOUND OFF: 13 Things To Love About Michael Mott's WHERE THE SKY ENDS
Today we are turning our attention to an overwhelmingly praise-worthy new compilation celebrating up-and-coming composer Michael Mott, WHERE THE SKY ENDS.
The Devil & God
God, where has Michael Mott been all of our lives?! In a modern musical theatre age with nary a risky, original musical likely to make it to the mainstages of Broadway and almost as rare to find even in the ever-increasingly evaporating Off-Broadway scene, with a single collection of selections from musicals he has composed that are currently in development and a few one-off songs, Mott firmly establishes himself as one of the most important, daring and inventive musical theatre artists alive today. Hyperbole? Listen to WHERE THE SKY ENDS and disagree - I dare you. Hell, I double-dare you. Scaling the very heights of drama, the depths of misery, the passion of romance and the power of dreams; seamlessly vacillating between comedy songs, character numbers and big theatrical anthems to pop confections, mood pieces and even an unabashed dance track aimed at the current charts, Mott is nothing if not dizzyingly versatile and dazzlingly accomplished in the genres he seeks to explore. Furthermore, the charms of this release are not merely limited to likely appealing to the Broadway babies and theatre music enthusiasts among us - oh, no; Mott is creating music for everybody, of every inclination, everywhere. This is music for today and music for us all to enjoy - and savor it we will. Again - and again and again. To be perfectly frank, I simply cannot remember a musical theatre-related album that is at once so startlingly fresh and portentous of a blindingly bright future for its creator, nor one so absorbingly passionate, so persuasively powerful and so utterly, repeatedly enjoyable as this is - in years, maybe decades. It's a masterpiece. In short, Michael Mott's WHERE THE SKY ENDS is where heaven begins.
For even further evidence of the magic and majesties therein, here is a track-by-track analysis and dissection.
1. "Just Like Me" - Justin Guarini tips a funky hat to Stevie Wonder and kicks off the proceedings with verve, suaveness, coolness and an impossibly catchy syncopated chorus to go with it all. So fresh.
2. "The Left Side Of The Moon" - leading man Zachary Levi is the ingenious choice to perform this a guffaw-worthy swing comedy song with a last line sure to leave 'em rolling in the aisles. Jazzy!
3. "The Devil" - Perhaps the standout of the entire album, Sierra Boggess brings a smoky sensuality to the moody and addictive melody, brought over the top and made utterly brilliant by the unique story it tells, compounded by the way in which the jagged music and expert singer merge to express it. Wow.
4. "Don't Stop Dancin'" - a chart-ready club-thumper all-too ready for an EDM remix (Avicii maybe?), but bracingly contemporary already and blasted to the sonic rafters by a powerhouse vocal quartet (Bryan Terrell Clark, Shauna Goodgold, Bruce Landry and Lindsay Rider).
5. "Dare To Dream" - Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan are the perfect pair to put over a MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG-esque song of optimism and romance, finding Mott in a Sondheim-meets-Schwartz vein.
6. "Her Embrace" - Josh Young fiercely, ferociously proves once again precisely why he is a prime interpreter of Andrew Lloyd Webber's oeuvre with this unabashedly Lloyd Webber-iffic anthem, abetted by smart charts and co-production by Kim Sharnberg (here and elsewhere). A melody to beat the band, along with a musical build that mega-musical dreams are surely made of - and inspire.
7. "Hold Me Tight" - Orfeh sweetly and strongly serenades us with a Christine McVie/Fleetwood Mac moment to relish. Instantly impressive, overwhelmingly well-produced and thoughtfully sung. Delicious.
8. "Try" - Mott penned this song especially for Jeremy Jordan and it shows - the melody, mood, tone and moving thematic gist of the song lands in his wheelhouse like a custom-made suit. A performer to a song like a hand to a glove - with an achingly soft caress to top it all off.
9. "Let You Go" - perhaps the most clear-cut musical theatre-sounding entry in the entire affair, Jacqueline Petroccia builds the story-song about a wife leaving her husband masterfully with a 1960s-style musical accompanianment to match.
10. "Gone" - Ben Fankhauser shows off his winning ways with a tricky tune and Jason Mraz-ish modern melody with this unquestionable album highlight - one of the most memorable and propulsive selections of all, as a matter of fact, even on an album with so many splendors. A real winner.
11. "Sky (Interlude)" - Mott himself shares some self-sung demo snippets and lovingly shouts out to the enviable team of theatre stalwarts who helped him create this excellent collection in a cute interlude.
12. "Sky" - Without a doubt, Mott proves here that he could have probably sung all the songs himself and still contributed an album of great worth and import, but his benevolence and foresight to allow others to give voice to his genius is yet another example of just that - his genius. And, boy oh boy, is he one.
And... #13: Michael Mott. Michael Mott. Michael Mott. Michael Mott. Michael Mott. Michael Mott. Michael Mott. Michael Mott. Michael Mott. Michael Mott. Michael Mott. Michael Mott. Michael Mott. Got it? Never forget that name - ever. Get the album, too, while you're at it - you definitely won't regret it... or forget it.
More information on Michael Mott's WHERE THE SKY ENDS is available at the official site here.
From This Author Pat Cerasaro