BWW Album Review: THE LIZ SWADOS PROJECT is an Emotionally Moving Tribute to this One of a Kind Visionary
The Liz Swados Project pays tribute to this unique and forward-thinking artist and showcases the voices of Broadway's elite including Sophia Anne Caruso; Ali Stroker; Starr Busby; Damon Daunno; and many more. Liz Swados' work in musical theatre focused on her passion around social justice -- exploring the themes of equality; acceptance; and improving the state of humanity, especially during turbulent times when change was needed.
The album - featuring the world premiere recordings of 14 songs - is produced by Lauren Fitzgerald, Kris Kukul and Matt Stine, with Kurt Deutsch and Roz Lichter serving as executive producers. Kris Kukul, Ms. Swados's longtime music director, provides orchestrations and arrangements.
The music features a range of styles from contemporary tunes to folk and indie beats, and more theatrically artistic ballads. There is no shortage of show-stopping vocals and beautiful storytelling - with something for every taste and chock full of raw emotion to express the innermost layers of the human soul.
One of the opening songs, "We Are Not Strangers" expresses how we are all connected and even when traveling outside of our comfort zones, we will always find something familiar. It's comforting and mellow - in a manner reminiscent of folk music - and brings a smile to your face when you think of someone who knows you well and the natural ease that comes with that kind of relationship.
"In This My Green World" draws on descriptive imagery of trees, mountains, and the natural beauty of the earth to embody the feelings of love and safety. Flowers and birds are symbols of everlasting wonder in a world separate from the darker experiences of being human. You can almost close your eyes and get lost in this vision with its catchy beat and believe for a moment that there is love available all day.
Switching gears a little bit is "Take Me to Paris" which uses a cabaret-style to bring its messages to life. The muse is the City of Light's delicious cuisine and one of a kind entertainment, including burlesque and drag shows. There is just something about Paris that makes everything feel magical and fantasy-like and this ballad with its theatrical elements really captures your attention and takes you to another time and place.
Other themes of survival and escaping tough environments are exemplified in songs such as "Songs of a Child Prostitute." These characters yearn for home and are grasping for the people who will provide some sense of security. Tying into the issues that Swados advocated for such as bringing awareness to the lives of homeless youth and all the fighting they had to do just to get through the day, certainly makes you stop and reflect. "Lonesome of the Road" also captures the energy of the streets and those emotions of fear and instability that come up from trying to be on your own. It's about coming of age and finding our own answers in the journey, apart from our parents' expectations and visions for our lives.
The album ends on a hopeful note with "A Change Shall Come" that talks about being the makers of a new age that is brighter. The young have the vitality and opportunity to change the world's reality and all of the struggle will not be in vain. It leaves you feeling strong and in control - I can feel a transformative revolution of social change on the horizon and we owe it to Swados to continue her good work and leave a profound impact on the world we want to experience.
The Liz Swados Project is now available on Ghostlight Records.