Potter, who is currently appearing on Broadway as The Mistress in Evita, displays her talents as both a singer and a songwriter on this six-song EP, where country meets rock and roll. Each of the tunes has a twangy zest, and Potter belts them out with warmth and deep feeling, particularly "Just a Show," an excellent reimagining of the "my man's done me wrong" narrative, and "Never You Mind," which, with a more crashing heavy metal sound, similarly revisits a tale of love gone wrong.
Julie Reiber - Love Travels (CDBY)
Reiber offers up a combination of pop hits, original songs and a few numbers from musicals with a mixture of a rocker's intensity and stage artist's vulnerability on this genuinely enjoyable disc. The recording is particularly special when she puts imaginative spins on her song choices: Jason Robert Brown's "Still Hurting" (from The Last 5 Years) unexpectedly soars, Burt Bacharach's "Walk on By" has a contemporary electronic edge, and Stephen Schwartz's "Defying Gravity" (from Wicked) begins with a lovely acoustic vibe.
Dave Willetts - Once in a Lifetime-the 25th Anniversary Collection (Stage Door Records)
West End star Willetts surveys a grand array of musical theater fare on this disc, comprised of studio session and live performance tracks. There's little question that the singer has the power to make anthems like the title track (from Stop the World…) and "This Is the Moment" (from Jekyll and Hyde) surge into the listener's ear. He also can shrewdly moderate his delivery, and his take on "Not While I'm Around" (from Sweeney Todd) has an almost ethereal quality.
Rufus Wainwright - Out of the Game (Decca Records)
Wainwright blends an exceedingly pleasant retro sound with a decidedly contemporary one on his newest CD, which aurally shuttles between mid-1950s sounds, early 1980s new age styles, and more modern electronica with exceptional ease. As always, his vocals beautifully fit the subjects of his tunes, particularly "Montauk," a bittersweet tune about two men raising a child; and "Perfect Man," a dreamlike reverie that's strangely infectious.
Over The Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project (Entertainment One)
This two-disc set (replete with illustrated book) of 26 new lullabies thoroughly enchants, thanks to work of some of theater's top songwriters (including Stephen Sondheim, Maury Yeston, and Michael John LaChiusa) and such wonderful performers as Will Swenson, Laura Osnes, Victoria Clark, Kelli O'Hara, and Raul Esparza. Each track is a charmer in its own way, most notably, "Onesie," by Wayne Barker and B.D. Wong, which is heartrendingly delivered by Michael Cerveris, and the folksy "Poppy, The Little Brown Bear," by Jeff Bowen and rendered sweetly by Janet Dacal.
The Perfect Year - The 20th Annual STAGE Benefit Concert (Kritzerland)
The third recent S.T.A.G.E release, which celebrates the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber, is particularly worthwhile for its inclusion of songs that rarely get anthologized, such as "Other Pleasures" (from By Jeeves) in a lovely rendition by Lee Lessack; Leslie Jordan's spit-take inducing patter during "Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad" (from Song and Dance); and Tyne Daly's fiercely felt a cappella performance of "If This Is What We Are Fighting For" (from The Beautiful Game).
Richard Beadle - Songs (Beadle Music Ltd.)
British songwriter Beadle's felicity with a wide variety of musical genres is splendidly showcased on this 12-track disc. The compilation includes six songs from Beadle's tuner about marriage, Today Is the Day, all of which pulse with a contemporary sound that's melded with a musical theater vernacular, notably "1967," stirringly delivered by Hannah Waddingham. The balance of the numbers, where Beadle sometime forces his rhymes, including the art song "Invincible" (sensitively rendered by Stuart Matthew Price) and the pop/gospel "Tell the World" (performed with soulful flair by Landi Oshinowo).
A Song Cycle for Soho (Original London Cast Recording) (SimG Records)
Numbers by established British songwriters like George Stiles and Anthony Drewe mingle with ones by emerging talents like Dougal Irvine and Andrew Brinded in this decidedly contemporary revue. Performed with gusto by Micheal Cantwell, James Gillian, Claire Moore, and Niamh Perry, the material ranges from Tony Award winner Douglas Hodge's edgy, bluesy "Fade to Black," and Stuart Matthew Price's delicately melancholy "If Nobody Knows Your Name," which gives personality, if not name, to people marginalized or simply forgotten by society.
Time - The Musical (Dave Clark Productions)
Dave Clark's semi-obscure mid-1980s musical enters the 21st Century with the digital release of this newly remastered concept recording. As it turns out, the songs from this British science fiction tuner sound terrific, particularly given the work of performers Ashford and Simpson, Murray Head, Julian Lennon, Freddie Mercury, Cliff Richard, and Dionne Warwick -- not to mention Sir Laurence Olivier who plays an intergalactic judge.
Victor Herbert: Collected Songs (New World Records)
Over 100 of Herbert's songs are collected on this four-disc set that features performances by such Broadway stars Sara Jean Ford, Aaron Lazar, Rebecca Luker, and Ron Raines, all of whom sound ravishing as they deliver Herbert's sumptuously rich tunes. And while some of the early German-language numbers might be a bit obscure for today's listener, once the collection has moved to his English-language creations, the music has an almost magical pull, particularly with silky waltzes like "Kiss Me Now" and lightly lilting tunes like "The Lady of the Lantern."