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BWW CD Review: LEGALLY BOUND LIVE AT FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW by Orfeh and Andy Karl Is Almost Criminally Great Fun


BWW CD Review: LEGALLY BOUND LIVE AT FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW by Orfeh and Andy Karl Is Almost Criminally Great Fun

In my youth, the release of a live album by a favorite artist was always a special occasion for everyone. Fans of musical artists would buy their studio albums and play the songs we heard on The Top 40, but the studio albums didn't give a feel for what the artists were like in performance. On those open-up double albums filled with photos and liner notes there was a chance to experience their show from start to finish, to hear what they said to the band, to the audience, and any duet partners they might have. The release of albums like Bette Midler Live At Last, Peter Frampton Comes Alive, An Evening With John Denver, and Donna Summer Live and More were monumental moments in the lives of music lovers.

The magic of buying a live album has dissipated in recent times - one suspects it is because we have Youtube now, and Instagram, and Facebook. There are online videos and iPhone movies and bootlegs from which we can actually view the live concerts and shows, and see what our favorite artists are like when they perform in person. We don't necessarily need to buy the albums when we can make a Youtube playlist.

Legally Bound Live At Feinstein's/54 Below by Orfeh and Andy Karl is an event, captured on a CD, and worth owning.

Legally Bound is a show that Mr. and Mrs. Karl have been doing for a while, and though singing artists often create new shows for themselves, the fact of the matter is that Orfeh and Andy could keep doing Legally Bound for the rest of their lives and people would turn up to see it. Certainly, each time they do the show there are changes - a new song is switched out for one previously done, there are fresh stories to tell, and new outfits to see, but Legally Bound is so perfect a show for the duo that it will always be a good choice for a night out. There's a hitch, though. Orfeh and Andy are big personalities and big talents, and they have a big show with lots of distractions. The stage is filled with talented musicians, superb back-up singers, exciting lighting, glittery and sexy outfits, and the undeniable beauty that comes with looking at this couple. A night of watching Andy and Orfeh perform is an exciting experience and there's a lot to distract your attention from one of the key variables of Legally Bound: listening to the stars of the show. It's easy to get swept up in the moment of audience members shouting and cheering, maybe you're one of the people doing the cheering, and you might miss some key audible moments in the show.

Listening to this CD, you get every delicious discernible sound that the adorable couple makes. Recorded during the last performance of the debut run of Legally Bound, it is easy to get a feel for the mood that The Karls create during a show, as well as how devoted their fans are to them. From the opening announcer calling them to the stage to the final bows, this is a CD that will keep you connected to the music and the emotions presented therein, whether it's from the Motown hits used to open the concert or the character-driven ballads Karl sings from "Rocky" and "Groundhog Day." Even during those ballads, when the listener is immersed in the tale being told, it is impossible to keep from smiling, so tangible is the talent floating from the stereo speakers and AirPods. These people, these performers, have that quality that you have to be born with, the one that makes audiences happy - and it isn't just because they can sing like rockstars -- it's about that which they, themselves, bring to the stage.

While listening to this Broadway couple talk to the 54 Below audience about their spouse, when they reflect back on their life together, during personal asides to one another, it is extremely easy to get a feel for the boy and the girl on the stage. In these moments on this CD, they cease being (for a few moments) the diva and divo that fans love and adore, and they turn into boys and girls like you and me, walking down the sidewalk holding hands... on their way to slay while singing a song by Prince! Watching The Karls live or on their social media, this is a quality that sometimes gets swept aside by fierceness and fabulosity, but on this CD you might hear Orfeh giggle a bit, or a little catch in Andy's voice while praising his wife, and it's always a treat to get a feel for the true dynamic between a famous couple. Then, like the wind, that private little moment becomes ether as the bigger-than-the-sky voiced Orfeh takes control of the journey with a magnum rock opus or a musical theater power ballad. It all makes for an extremely satisfying musical interlude to the day, one perfectly arranged by musical director Steven Jamail and expertly produced and mastered by Michael J. Moritz Jr. and Greg Reierson

Most of what the Tony-nominated actors present on the CD is music that is well suited to their ability to sing big, a skill they both possess that always impresses, though there are moments that provide a sample of something with a tender, quieter mood, like the opening lines of the "Make Like a Nail/If I Can Dream" mashup (which builds to a take-'em-to-church ending) or the buoyant, jubilant "History," a particular favorite of this writer who loves jaunty tunes designed for chair dancing while seated at the desk working. The near-perfect CD is an eclectic mix of musical styles to whet the whistle for music fans who might find themselves dreaming of solo CDs upon which Orfeh covers the great jazz divas of the '30s and '40s and Andy explores acoustic covers of the men of '70s rock and roll. For the record, the only thing keeping this CD from being absolutely perfect is that, at a respectable 52 minutes, the disc expurgates about 20 or so minutes from the actual show, 20 additional minutes that might sound like too much for one CD - but you know the old saying: too much of Orfeh and Andy is WONDERFUL.

Legally Bound Live at Feinstein's/54 Below by Orfeh and Andy Karl is a 2017 release on the Broadway Records label and is available on iTunes, Amazon and other outlets.

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