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BWW CD Reviews: Ghostlight Records' A SECOND CHANCE (Original Cast Recording) Jazzes Life's Hardships

Cover art courtesy of Ghostlight Records.

Recently, I've come to embrace the idea that a life well lived is filled with its fair share of second chances and new beginnings. For Ted Shen's A SECOND CHANCE audiences were introduced to Dan, a grieving widower, and Jenna, a divorcée. Both are living in crisis, filled with uncertainty about what the future has in store for them. A SECOND CHANCE opened to mixed reviews at the Public Theater, and now Ghostlight Records has released the schmaltzy jazz musical's original cast recording, which is worth listening to.

Ted Shen has written the book, music, and lyrics for A SECOND CHANCE, showcasing his multifaceted skills of creation. However, the music for the show is my least favorite part of the recording. With a background in jazz music, he studied songwriting with Ricky Ian Gordon for two years. This knowledge pervades the air on the album, but the aural landscape is so homogenously jazz from beginning to end that it sounds repetitive. The meaty heart of the disc is Ted Shen's gorgeously constructed lyrics, which take an effort to listen to once the novelty of a jazz musical wears thin.

Ted Shen's lyrics are beautifully introspective and well crafted. In listening to them, as sung by Brian Sutherland's Dan and Diane Sutherland's Jenna, the emotionality of them reverberates within the heart, impacting and moving listeners with their deft poignancy. We feel the fears of the protagonists, we're stirred by their budding romance, we see the magic of a New York City snowfall, and we discover that life always offers a second chance when we least expect it. The lyrics are glittery sentimentality and honest grit at their finest, making A SECOND CHANCE (Original Cast Recording) an interesting listen.

On the album, Brian Sutherland croons with a soft baritone instrument. He sings with tangible passion and brings a sense of urgency to songs like "Damaged Goods." Diane Sutherland's gentle alto voice charms. As Jenna becomes more distressed and upset, Diane Sutherland's voice frays and sounds more strained, adding weight to her interpretation of the character. Neither offers the polished and rousingly strong vocal performance we've come to expect from most cast recordings, but both sound genuine and captivate listeners in that way.

I never expected that at 28 I would be able to connect with A SECOND CHANCE; however, seven weeks ago I started my own life over in New York City. I feel certain anyone who has faced drastic change in their life will find truth in these lyrics and will relate to Dan and Jenna. Give Ghostlight Records' A SECOND CHANCE (Original Cast Recording) a try. You, like me, may be surprised at how it touches you.

Ghostlight Records released A SECOND CHANCE (Original Cast Recording) both digitally and physically on August 5, 2014. The album can be purchased from Ghostlight Records' online store, iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.

For information about other theatrical recording releases, click here.

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