BWW CD Review: Aaron Tveit THE RADIO IN MY HEAD Will Get Inside Your Heart
Aaron Tveit is the new breed of cabaret performer. He's a musical theater actor with a penchant for rock and roll and a voice that can sing both. He's got the young people of the world clamoring for him, at the stage door and in the cabaret room. He builds audiences through Youtube and social media, and he brings all that youthful newness with him when he does a solo show, but he's going to layer in a little of that classical musical theater upon which is built all musical theater. He's a rock star, to be sure, and that all comes across in his CD "The Radio In My Head."
Recorded live at Feinstein's/54 Below on the final night of three weeks of performances, The Radio In My Head was Tveit's first solo concert in New York City, he explains during his conversations with his audience, but it was not his first concert and it shows as the evening captured here provides the listener with a polished performer who is comfortable being in front of an audience. He chose, for the outing, the songs that have made a significant mark in his life, from his first High School musical, West Side Story, to the Garth Brooks music his father listened to during young Tveit's formative years. Aaron's most important mission, it would seem, is telling stories through the songs he sings. He doesn't really need the music, though, because in between the musical numbers Tveit spins yarns about his life, and that of his loved ones, as easily as though he were doing a TED Talk. With a man as charming and likable as this, it is impossible to listen to the pieces in his mosaic without finding yourself smitten by his presence - and this is on a CD, where you don't have to benefit of seeing his handsome face and winsome smile (though the booklet photographs will do quite nicely). As amiable a fellow as Aaron Tveit seems on the album, it is, though, the singing that will make the listener happy they spent the money - and it will also make the listener play the record again and again.
Aaron Tveit is some singer.
There are singers with pretty voices, others with powerful voices, some with a unique sound, and those with great style. Aaron Tveit has all of those things, plus an eclectic and enjoyable collection of musical offerings. Starting his show with his song "I'm Alive" just sets the tone for the entire record. It's HIS song. He's the first man to sing that amazing number from Next To Normal, and though many others have sung it after him, it's always more special when he does it himself, so having that be the opener for the musical trip you're about to take is appropriate. After that, though, all bets are off as Tveit covers classics, with an individual take on "If I Loved You," and modern music, with his spin on "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" (his open confession about loving pop music is quite adorable). Songs are seamlessly mashed-up for prime musical storytelling effect, and perfectly arranged to show off his rather impressive range, and always presented with some bright, touching, funny, and informative rhetoric about what each piece means to him, and why. Especially winning is the truly lovely "What You'd Call A Dream" and the monologue that precedes it, told frankly and honestly to an audience you can almost hear sighing over his reminiscence about life as a college student trying to find his way in the world of musical theater (though he does refer to the "soundtrack" of "The Last Five Years" when he means the cast album - so someone in college dropped the ball on that one).
The Radio In My Head is certainly a CD worth investing one's time and money in, from start to finish, but there are a few standouts, not the least of which is the simple pleasure of listening to Tveit joke with the audience about little things like The Hollywood Bowl and the proposed encore for the evening. If for no other reason, The Radio In My Head should be added to one's CD collection for the chance to hear "One Song Glory" whenever the mood hits, and the "She's Always a Woman/A Case of You" medley that musical director Bryan Perri arranged for Aaron. It has to be said, though, that the final number on this CD is a prime example of saving the best for last; here, this man who thrilled with high notes from Next To Normal, a power number from Catch Me If You Can, and full-on rock and roll, this new breed of star, this supremely gifted young man, wins your heart with two songs from The Great American Songbook, "My Romance" and "I Remember You."
As if your heart needed winning at all, after the hour of music that came before that encore.