BWW Album Review: MONSTERSONGS (World Premiere Recording) Roars with Originality
What comes to mind when you hear the words blood, brains, ghosts and mummies? Halloween might be a popular presumption, but it shouldn't be the only one with Broadway Records latest album Monstersongs now released. This new album, which also serves as a graphic novel, tells the inner-workings of some of the thoughts and sentiments of a various paradigm of monsters. Think of it as a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lives of some misunderstood monsters. Helmed by The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical composer, Rob Rokicki, the compilation of songs is best served with the Monstersongs: The Digital Graphic Novel. Illustrated by the artistically versed David O'Neill, the novel gives you the chance to pair the music with the exemplified art for a synergistic intake experience. David O'Neill's illustrations and Rokicki's compositions make for an immersive storytelling experience.
Of the novel and music duo, the latter of the two features a top-notch group of singers including a spattering of scary good Broadway names like Julia Murney, F. Michael Haynie, Tyce, and Molly Hagar. In addition to the talent, Monstersongs reeks with originality not only because of the accompanying graphic novel, but also how it runs with the idea of delving into the deliberations and outlooks of the beasts. Rokicki's music and lyrics turns common misconceptions about monsters like Medusa, Igor, Yeti (to name a few) on their head. For instance, on the track "Down and Under", Jelani Alladin plays the Troll living under a bridge, and lays out the backstory of how he "found the only bridge I hadn't burned and I went under". The catchy tune not only tells of how he seizes his victims, but gives insight to how he has fallen victim to this disposition. Soon to be seen in the role of Kristoff in the upcoming Broadway production of Frozen, Alladin goes on to expel his premonition of becoming a troll when he sings "find a bridge or build your own, from all the stones they've thrown". The track, a memorable one on the album, is just one of the many monster tales giving us another side of the preconceived story.
Another supernatural standout comes from the track "Right Through You" featuring the voice of Smash star Megan Hilty as the supposed ghost. This song has the bones of a Jim Steinman track, wherein it starts in a melodic fashion and ramps up into a powerful rock anthem finish. Hilty's voice fits the role of the apparition longing to be acknowledged faultlessly. There is a lyrical double entendre in how the title of the song cleverly applies to both the ghost and her living counterpart. It illuminates the idea that she sees right though the leftover feelings and actions of the one she left, while she is there but not seen in her current state.
Delving more into the inner workings of these creatures and characters, the songs are applaudably relatable to the human form. The rich undertones and virtues of theme humanize these characters in a lovable and sympathetic way. Most overtly, this is demonstrated in the track "Reluctantly", sung by Luca Padovan, where he plays a young dragon named Dave who recognizes that he does not fit in with the ideals of what a dragon categorically does and is known for. He lyrically cut and dry sings "I know what you expect from me, but what you want is something I can't be, so I'll try but I do it reluctantly". The track sings to the ideas trying to be a non-conformist instead of just playing to a role that was written for them, regardless of personal preference. Later in the album, we get another track evoking an empathetic view on Yeti and Sasquatch called "Footprints", sung by composer Rob Rokicki and Joe Iconis respectively. The harmonica laden track tells the tale of the two never being believable, and tell their tale of how they feel their lives are comparable to footprints in the snow. This is a testament to the strongest element of this album, in how most of the songs speak life into the human condition of feelings ostracized or like an outcast for reasons that are innate and natural to us but incomprehensible to others.
The pop/rock vibe of Monstersongs make it a memorable listen. While there are a few tracks that blend in, listening with intent along with the accompanying art is sure to make for a chillingly inventive musical experience. This album, released on October 20, 2017 will be sure to do the trick (or treat) of getting you in the Halloween spirit just in time for the holiday. Monstersongs does its due diligence in appealing to theatre fans, pop/rock fans, and comic fans alike. All the above will be bewitched with the clever concepts and beguiling ballads.
Broadway Records released Monstersongs digitally and physically on October 20, 2017. Visit monstersongs.net for more information and to purchase the accompanying graphic novel. Don't miss Monstersongs in concert in NYC's The Cutting Room on Monday, October 30. For tickets and more information, visit http://tickets.thecuttingroomnyc.com/event/1559649-monstersongs-new-york/.