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Album Review: Nothing Stupid Went Into Colin Donnell & Patti Murin's Debut Album SOMETHIN' STUPID

Album Review: Nothing Stupid Went Into Colin Donnell & Patti Murin's Debut Album SOMETHIN' STUPID

Married couple and new parents Patti Murin and Colin Donnell have a new blessing.

Album Review: Nothing Stupid Went Into Colin Donnell & Patti Murin's Debut Album SOMETHIN' STUPID Colin Donnell and Patti Murin sure didn't make their pandemic time something for idle hands. During her recent club act at 54 Below Patti talked about the experience that she and Colin have had becoming new parents to a gorgeous little girl, and it sounds like the happy couple is, now, a really happy family. And yesterday their really happy family got a new addition, also born out of their not-so-idle time in quarantine: the first-ever Colin Donnell/Patti Murin album.

SOMETHIN' STUPID, Alex Timbers explains in the liner notes, was a true quarantine production, with Patti and Colin recording their vocals at home, and a coterie of exemplary musicians recording their mutual tracks from parts international, with arranger/orchestrator Luke Williams and producer Robbie Rozelle joining in during Zoom staff meetings, and, thus, an album was born.

And the first thing that should be said about Somethin' Stupid is that it does not sound, remotely, like an album that was put together piecemeal. Some quarantine creations do come with a certain DIY vibe to them, and that's ok. There will be no criticism of any work of art created using inventive means during a pandemic - any artist who has worked hard in service of the act of creation deserves hearty pats on the back. But Somethin' Stupid is every bit a fully realized album, presented as though having been created in the days prior to March 13, 2020. Much of that success is thanks to the technical work done on the disc. The credits page in the gorgeous (and in the great tradition of proper album art) CD booklet points strongly in the direction of Yasuhiko Fukuoka, whose name appears next to the words Edited, Mixed, Mastered, Engineering, and Co-Produced. Mr. Fukuoka has had a lot of trust placed in him by producer Rozelle (who is responsible for splendid package design) and that trust has not been misguided. The levels on the album are beyond reproach. At no time does one single musical contributor override another: the voices and the instruments are all seamlessly balanced so that the listener is given a chance to hear everything in immaculately captured tracks, tracks that do not overpower the listening experience when using headphones, simply because they have been recorded too loudly. Somethin' Stupid is a marvel of technical achievement.

And then there are the artistic choices on this family album.

When creating an album, there should be a storytelling goal. Because the recording industry had become one of singles and EPs, because people listen to a single track on Spotify, because people buy a single cut off of iTunes, because people cut and paste songs into a playlist, the focus on album storytelling has eased up a bit; in some cases it completely disappears, and albums become just a random collection of songs that the singer wants to perform. It is clear that when Colin and Patti sat down to compile the song list for their album, they had a story to tell, and the story is their story. The listener will get to the end of this album with a sense of who these people are, or, at least, parts of who they are.

We learn that Colin has an affection for music from the past, music and a past that fits the vibe seen in Michael Hull's beautiful album photos: scruffy-faced, denim-clad, guitar-wielding Colin gives off every bit of "Because The Night" and "House of the Rising Sun." And the performances of these songs, of some Paul Simon and of some Johnny Cash, all fit Donnell like a worn leather glove perfectly matched to that denim and scruff look. There is every chance that this Broadway belter, somewhere, sometime, wished for a life as a rock star. And he would have been good at it. even though his "Finishing The Hat" (also a song from the past) is a reminder of why Broadway and Colin belong together.

Patti Murin, on the other hand, is a Broadway gal. That much is patently clear. There is no Pat Benatar, there is no Bonnie Raitt. Her personal choices for the album are all musical-oriented, whether from the stage or from the occasional Disney animated feature, and that's as it should be because Ms. Murin has one of the loveliest aesthetics and most pristine vocal instruments a composer could hope to have represent their work, and that instrument and that aesthetic just happens to be ideally suited to musical theater. Singing from Jason Robert Brown, The Lopezes, and Stephen Schwartz, each of Patti's solos are deft representations of how Broadway should and how Broadway can sound in a singing actress's hands. Naturally, there is rewarding resonance in Murin's performance of "Everything Changes" but one suspects that that is precisely what new mom to Cecily was going for. (Also, Patti's "Meadowlark" is one to be enjoyed, in the extreme, as an individual look at a timeless classic).

And then we learn about ColinNPatti, the couple. As the album shifts back and forth between each artist's solos, there have to be duets, naturally, and ColinNPatti have made musical choices that tell the listener that they aren't just one thing, not as people and not as a pair. There's a Disney duet, there's a Standards duet, there's a country duet, and there's the title song, a famous pop duet (fun fact: "Somethin' Stupid" was a hit for Frank Sinatra and Nancy Sinatra, and even though the recording of "Jackson" here leans into the Johnny and June Cash recording, Nancy Sinatra also sang the tune with Lee Hazelwood). ColinNPatti are a multi-faceted couple with a plethora of musical tastes, and when they chose duets for themselves, the compositions that made the cut are ones filled with opportunities to be playful, romantic, sensual, and devoted: all the things a right and proper couple ought to be. And they have created a right and proper debut album that tells the listener who they are - who they are as artists, who they are as individuals, who they are as a couple.

So, there is good news. The storytelling album does still exist, and SOMETHIN' STUPID is a prime example of how artists can, effectively, create that aesthetic. From the perfect performances to Robbie Rozelle's spot-on packaging, from Michael Hull's photos to Luke Williams' arrangements (listen carefully, too, for there are hidden surprises), the album paints pictures, at every turn. It's fun and it's pleasurable, filled with marvelous music and all the feels; it's an impressive debut album and the perfect baby sibling for little Cecily Donnell, who's favorite cut on the album just has to be Mommy and Daddy's duet from TANGLED.

SOMETHIN' STUPID is a 2022 release on the Broadway Records label. It is available on digital platforms and at the Broadway Records website HERE.

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