BWW CD Review: Alexa Green SO GOOD Gives Good Green
Every actress who plays Glinda in the play "Wicked" must have a special set of skills, and those skills start at the ability to sing big. Alexa Green is one of those women, and her debut CD "So Good" might be more appropriately titled So Big. The given title is not a misnomer - the cd is good, it might even be so good, but it is quite clear (sometimes overwhelmingly) that Ms. Green is working with an instrument that provides a power strong enough to raise any roof, indeed, maybe even the whole house. What the CD does not provide listeners with is a visual that makes Green's vocal power even more impressive, because audiences who have seen Alexa live are privy to the knowledge that the lady is tiny, and even though size doesn't matter when it comes to vocal prowess, it is always a thrill to hear a big sound come out of a small woman. Alexa Green is, indeed, petite, pretty, and powerful, and it is a winning combination.
So Good is an album that, definitely, has Alexa Green all over it, a fact that presents itself to new fans throughout the journey the singer has planned for them. Those not prone to reading liner notes might miss the first entry on the page of acknowledgments, "Lord, I offer this album up to you. Thank you for the gift of song," but nobody could mistake Alexa Green's upbringing or devotion, upon hearing the gospel treatment of songs like "Look To The Rainbow" and "If It's Over." Green and musical director/arranger Dylan Glatthorn (also credited with orchestrations and piano) have made a deep dive into what it is that makes Alexa the artist and woman that she is, finding inspiration in the church, the Broadway stage, and the radio, where Ms. Green has tastes eclectic enough to provide listeners with a little country, bits of pop, and some soul (apropos, as the liner notes also proclaim that the CD comes from her soul). The varied nature of So Good does not hinder the enjoyment of the musical journey (which it could have by seeming scattered) but Green and co. have constructed the placement of the songs in a way that reminds one of a visit to the play "Sleep No More" with each number acting as a corridor, leading you to a room, where you discover another hallway that guides you to a different room, and all along the way, you discover more shades, colors and nuances, all making up Alexa Green. It's an exciting and eye-opening exploration of both the lady and her artistry.
So Good is brimming with bold choices, right out of the gate. Who takes one of Barbra Streisand's most famous finales and starts their album with it? Alexa Green, that's who, and she does "Piece of Sky" with just a piano, while the rest of the CD has a plethora of musical instruments, ensuring that we know she can do it without the spoils, she has the voice, she has the skill, she has the power. Once that is out of the way, Green can have some fun with a little Musgraves and a little Mitchell, but it is in the bold choices where Ms. Green continues to wow, throughout, like a stunningly reinvented "Come Rain Or Come Shine" or a "Blues In The Night" unlike any ever before heard. It is clear that Alexa Green is a woman and a singer determined to do things her way - these arrangements, created just for her, are a savvy way for Ms. Green to take her individuality and put it front and center for the world to see, though there are times when, even as original as Alexa's talent is, a musical theater aficionado might be reminded of other Broadway talents like Shoshana Bean and the late, great Anita Morris. That's a compliment, by the way.
Ms. Green's maiden voyage into the recording studio is more than so good, it is excellent, with noteworthy production values, an orchestra of skilled musicians and back-up singers, and mixing from Alex Venguer and Ryan Cantwell that keep the balance between the big voice and big band, something that, surely, required a masterful touch (Cantwell, incidentally, is credited as producer, alongside Mitchell Walker). In spite of the village that was required to make the CD materialize, it is Green's palpable desire to put herself on display that makes the album as good as it is - and it's not just her talent that is on display, it is her heart, indeed, her soul. Yes, the talent is important, and it is showcased in a way best described as an audition monologue, when the actor has a limited amount of time to show their range. Choosing so varied a scope of musical styles allows Alexa to display many different skills, not the least of which is singing big (there is not one track on the CD where she doesn't go big at some point), but her insistence in showing who she is, through those musical choices, permits the listener to observe the facets of her personality, her interests, her passions. When So Good is finished, the audience has seen some of Alexa - and letting people see who you are is the real gift of an artist.
This is not an audition monologue, though, and Alexa Green hasn't shown us all the different places she can go, vocally. There is more to hear from, more to know of Alexa Green and whatever she comes up with next will be a surprise, you can be sure of that. Given the naughty "Squeeze Me" and the frisky "Summerfling" (this writer's favorites on the album), it would not be surprising if the next offering from Green were an album of introverted jazz tunes or a CD of sunny '70s pop music. Whatever Alexa Green comes up with next don't doubt for a second, don't even bet against it -- it's going to be interesting, it's going to be original, and it's going to be oh, so good.