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BWW Album Review: Telly Leung's 'You Matter' Elicits the Humanity That Still Exists in Quarantine

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BWW Album Review: Telly Leung's 'You Matter' Elicits the Humanity That Still Exists in Quarantine

Broadway and TV actor, singer, and songwriter, Telly Leung, (Aladdin, Allegiance, Glee) has turned the bleakness of quarantine into the promise of brighter days ahead, with his new EP, You Matter. Made in collaboration with composer and music director, Gary Adler (Avenue Q) and lyricist, Phoebe Kreutz, these five tracks include original music, as well as Leung's one-of-a-kind take on Disney favorites, "Proud of Your Boy" and "Go the Distance/Hero."

The EP begins with the beautifully vulnerable, "You Matter" and dives into some of the rawer emotions felt during these months in quarantine. While priorities have shifted into survival mode, as we do what we can to make it through the day, important reminders still ring true: As human beings, we yearn to feel taken care of emotionally. This time period for many has been marked by isolation, loneliness, fear, and uncertainty - being kept apart from family, friends, and loved ones - but this song is a powerful prompt to still cherish our relationships and let others know we are thinking of them and haven't stopped caring. While times look and feel different, basic human needs have not changed.

On a lighter note, "Zoom With You" pokes fun in a lighthearted way about the communications software that has become central to how we work, stay in touch with friends, and maintain personal relationships (all in 40 minutes of course, before the fees kick in)! In this period of social distancing, it's the only thing we can do to build those bonds and feel close to others. Zoom has become the way we celebrate holidays and birthdays; go on dates; and hang out with friends. This song is the laugh you need, and oh so relatable, as we navigate Zoom and deal with the disruptions that affect how we show up from home. We're all learning this thing together, right? There are bound to be some embarrassing moments, but we're doing the best we can until we can be together again in person.

Leung is joined by vocalist Jojo Engelbert for "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" that combines iconic lyrics from West Side Story's "Somewhere." It is a gentle and healing ballad for current times, where more peace, acceptance, and love are needed. It offers hope for a better and more inclusive world and is absolutely stunning.

Two additional songs featuring Disney favorites, including "Proud of Your Boy" from Aladdin and "Go the Distance/Hero" from Hercules round out Leung's EP. These songs showcase Leung's energetic, upbeat, and inspiring voice that pairs lyrics from legendary songs such as Mariah Carey's "Hero" -- reflecting the key messages of pushing through a tough journey and calling on your inner hero to guide you.

"Proud of Your Boy" is a sentimental love letter to parents that children everywhere can take meaning from, in wanting to do the best for your family. This ingrained desire never fades, no matter how old we get, and especially now in times when we feel separated from family, we never stop being a son or daughter. Leung's words to his parents are pure and heartfelt -- driving home that eternal connection to family.

As a whole, You Matter elicits those real feelings that all of us have been experiencing, but have not taken the time to voice -- as the days turn into weeks, and then months -- and we lose track of those emotions that join humanity together. These are words that we need to hear and reflect on, as we do our best to emerge from this challenging and unprecedented time as more compassionate people.

Leung and Adler recently celebrated the EP's release with a live-streamed virtual release party, benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

The EP also features performances from Mary Ann McSweeney on bass, Brian Koonin on guitar, Michael Croiter on drums, and J.J. Johnson on viola. The EP is engineered by Eli Engelbert, who also designed beats for the Adler-Kreutz original "Zoom With You."

You Matter is now available for download and streaming on all platforms.

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