BWW Album Review: THE JONATHAN LARSON PROJECT Is An Uncovered Musical Treasure Trove
Larson tragically passed away in 1996 at the young age of 35, but not before leaving us with the soon-to-be cultural touchstone RENT and highly commendable, autobiographical tick, tick... BOOM! Ghostlight Records released this compilation of songs earlier this month. Give it a listen here!
The physical CD is set for release this June, in tandem with a 40-page hardcover book contextualizing the material.
This album takes a deep dive into the Larson archives, exposing material of his that had previously never been performed, produced or released. His produced work has him credited for a watershed moment in musical theater history, so it is no surprise that all this additional material speaks volumes in its relation to the human condition. The recording features performances from several notable Broadway names, including Nick Blaemire, Lauren Marcus, Andy Mientus, Krysta Rodriguez, and George Salazar, who each help accentuate the versatility of the material in their own ways. The project opens the way many great musical should, with a rousing ensemble number. This one is titled "Greene Street", and it automatically sets the tone and tempo, counseling listeners to buckle up for what is to follow as they listen. The album closes with arguably one of the most melodically and lyrically beautiful tracks, "Piano". It is a humble and touching capstone to the entire composition.
Larson's signature pop/rock sounds remains intact throughout, while seamlessly blending meticulous storytelling in his lyrics. The track "Iron Mike" performed by George Salazar, exemplifies this. This melody specifically leaves the listener wondering only if and where this track could have fit in a larger body of Larson's work. In that same vein is '"Find The Key", and Lauren Marcus' performance in "Hosing the Furniture". Larson had a gift for gracefully towing the line between writing music that simultaneously fits in the musical theater and pop music cannons, without exception.Credit is due to the team, headed by Jennifer Ashley Tepper, that worked to get this music preserved. This album is simply a gift to fans of Larson and his legacy. It really highlights the impressive talent he had, and how well he used it in a life cut short.