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BWW Album Review: BETTY BUCKLEY SINGS STEPHEN SONDHEIM Sparkles With Grace and Heart

It reminds us that Buckley's career is far from over and that Sondheim’s legacy will never fade.

BWW Album Review: BETTY BUCKLEY SINGS STEPHEN SONDHEIM Sparkles With Grace and Heart

Earlier this month, marking the passing of legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim and just ahead of the anniversary of his birth, Tony Award winner Betty Buckley released Betty Buckley SINGS Stephen Sondheim, a compilation album of 24 tracks pulled from nine of Buckley's past releases and two tracks unique to this release. Each rendition from Sondheim's catalog sparkles with Buckley's grace and heart, making the album a beautiful love letter to one of musical theater's greatest artists.

The album opens with a light jazz version of "Children Will Listen," which is instantly inviting and captivating. It blends seamlessly into "Not While I'm Around." With Sondheim's passing fresh on the memory, this track stings a bit as he is no longer with us physically. Yet, we can take refuge in knowing his heart via his art will forever be around. The album takes a melancholic turn as Buckley performs devastating and utterly heartrending takes on "I Remember" and "Children and Art / Stay with Me." Both tracks are tinged with palpable loss and sorrow.

It feels as if we shift to the moment of acceptance in the stages of grief as the hopeful ballad "No One is Alone" springs forth with an ebullience that brightens the room and our mood. Next, is an up-tempo "Sorry-Grateful" that illuminates the complexity of human emotions with deft skill sung by Buckley. Then, Buckley effortlessly decimates our hearts again with her heartfelt and keen iterations of "Not a Day Goes By" and "Move On."

With "Pretty Women," the album's ninth track, the record begins to explore and celebrate the scope of Sondheim's repertoire. Buckley allows us to move on from our feelings about Sondheim's death, and focus on his and her masterful artistry. Her "Old Friends" is lively and radiant. Likewise, her take on "Finishing the Hat" is sublimely introspective and dazzles with just the right amount of boisterous belting. Taking on "Marry Me a Little," Buckley fills the song with ample longing, charming listeners with a pitch-perfect performance. Next, she performs "Send in the Clowns" and "Every Day a Little Death" with such measured knowledge that the pair of bittersweet tracks impress with her pristine balance and poise. Buckley follows suit with her delightful performances on the feisty and fun "Now You Know," the energetic and vibrant "Something's Coming," the powerful and brash narcissistic anthem "Rose's Turn," and her remarkably plaintive "Anyone Can Whistle."

For Betty Buckley SINGS Stephen Sondheim, Buckley released two new live recordings: "Another Hundred People" and "I Know Things." Both tracks showcase her continued prowess for performing Sondheim with an intoxicating zeal. Across the whole album it is clear she is a devotee to Sondheim's grandeur, and both of these newly released recordings serve to emphasize that.

The album enters its final moments with an uplifting and sonically bright performance of "Jet Song" and a deliciously lush recording of "Maria." Next up is her decadent "Sweeney Todd Suite," which beautifully melds "Not While I'm Around," "Johanna," and "My Friends" together in an arrangement that was immaculately written for Buckley's haunting instrument. The album closes with her jazzy and empowering version of "I'm Still Here," reminding us that her career is far from over and that Sondheim's legacy will never fade.

Betty Buckley SINGS Stephen Sondheim is available for purchase and streaming now. Access the album at your favorite music service by clicking here.

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