BWW Album Review: SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD (New York City Center 2018 Encores! Off-Center Cast Recording) is Glorious
Jason Robert Brown's beloved and thrilling song cycle SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD was produced at New York City Center during the 2018 Encores! Off-Center season. Starring Shoshana Bean, Colin Donnell, Mykal Kilgore, and Solea Pfeiffer, there is no denying this presentation was a true event. Luckily for all, this cast - in all of its glory - was captured and preserved by Ghostlight Records on SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD (New York City Center 2018 Encores! Off-Center Cast Recording).
This two-disc set is worth the purchase for Bean's immaculate and gorgeous rendition of "The Flagmaker, 1775" alone. First of all, her repetitions of "one more star, one more stripe" will linger with you forever. And, if Bean's truly evocative performance across the track doesn't stir your heart to the core, check your pulse. You're likely not among the living.
In this same vein, Bean delivers show-stopping performances on the delicious frenzied character piece "Just One Step." Leading with tangible panache and a brazenly nasal New York accent, Bean delivers a truly excellent performance that is filled with heartache and humor. The heartache and humor bit is also true for her take on the driving character ballad "Surabaya-Santa." On this song, Beans vocally chews the scenery with divine prowess and makes the piece sparkle with a vivacious, biting wit that is addictive. Then, with "Stars and the Moon," Bean sings the tune with such joyous heart that she makes listening to it a truly decadent experience.
Opposite Bean, the other major stand out on the album is Mykal Kilgore, who sings both "The Steam Train" and "King of the World" with such indefatigable ebullience that both songs are nothing short of stunning. With a perfected Broadway pop timbre that is infused with elements of R&B and gospel, his vocals soar across both tracks. The scintillating soul side of his instrument comes out more on "On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship, 1492" and "Flying Home." Both of which he brings to vibrant life, offering listeners unforgettable performances on the tracks.
Pfeiffer's charming voice is delightfully introspective and filled with lush, palpable resolve on "I'm Not Afraid of Anything." Her shimmering rendition of "Christmas Lullaby" is lovely and poignant as well. Donnell's affably brawny instrument is earnest and animated on "The River Won't Flow" and "She Cries." With a jazz-infused tonality, he brings a distinguished allure to both of these up-tempo numbers. Then, Pfeiffer and Donnell's duets on "The World Was Dancing" and "I'd Give It All For You" abound with dynamic zest and tenderness.
Ghostlight Records's SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD (New York City Center 2018 Encores! Off-Center Cast Recording) deftly captures the power and majesty of this song cycle. Preserving this cast was an inspired choice, and this new recording easily justifies the decision.