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BWW Album Review: Kyle Taylor Parker Brings Plenty of BROADWAY SOUL

A creative update on some of your favorite Broadway tunes

BWW Album Review: Kyle Taylor Parker Brings Plenty of BROADWAY SOULUpdated arrangements are the bread and butter of the showbiz world, especially right now, when there's so little new music coming out. That's where albums like Kyle Taylor Parker's Broadway Soul, Vol. 2 hit the sweet spot. It's all the familiar Broadway songs you love, but with a unique take that makes them feel fresh again.

Parker and a rotating cast of fellow talented singers put their own unique spins on quite a few showtune classics, and for the most part, the new arrangements succeed. While "New Music" starts the album off gently, it's Parker's take on The Wiz's "What Would I Do If I Could Feel" that really kicks things into gear. It's smooth and charming - you'd have to be heartless not to feel something with his performance.

Plenty of other talented voices join Parker to really elevate the album to something special. Jackie Cox and Blaine Krauss guest on a sleek, soulful cover of "Love for Sale" that takes the jazz standard and gives it a couple decades' worth of an update. Cox also joins Parker on one of the album's most creative tracks: "Sugar Daddy," one of the signature songs from Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Gone is the blaring punk-rock of the original; instead, the rough edges are smoothed out a bit into something equally sexy and daring but with a Motown tinge that, surprisingly, works incredibly well. Meanwhile, Natalie Joy Johnson gets the assist on "You Could Drive a Person Crazy," turning Company's perky girl-group homage into a moody slow-jam about messy, complicated love and attraction.

South Pacific's glorious "Some Enchanted Evening" doesn't sound, on paper, like it should be mashed up with "All I Do Is Dream of You," best known as "that perky cake-girls song from Singin' in the Rain." On first listen, the odd pairing - which adds a new rhythm and slows down the latter song, for something of a Motown vibe - doesn't quite work, but I was intrigued enough by the sheer incongruity to give it a second listen. I'm very glad I did, and other listeners should too. It's incredibly creative, the lyrics actually meld better than expected, and the arrangement manages to take two songs that shouldn't go together and turn them into a fun, romantic mash-up.

To be fair, not every unusual arrangement works quite as well. Despite Parker's best efforts, his boy-group stylings on The Music Man's "Til There Was You" simply don't land. The lyrics pair just fine with the new sound, but there's something not quite satisfying about the arrangement as a whole; it feels just the slightest bit shoehorned. Ditto with "Buddy's Blues," that showstopper from Follies, here reimagined at a much slower tempo and a little twang. It's a song that's so specifically and thematically wedded to its original vaudevillian style that the revamp, while musically interesting, loses something along the way.

The album does seem to save some of its best for last. A mash-up of "Falling in Love with Love" and "Mr. Pitiful" is absolutely delightful, and Parker's duet with Shoshana Bean on "The Glory of Love" is particularly memorable. We end with "What I Did for Love," a tribute to the challenges and joy of a life in the arts - something that feels particularly appropriate this past year. It's a bittersweet and beautiful way to end the album, with pain and hope in equal measure.


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From This Author Amanda Prahl