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Music Filled with Glee

Reviews of Matthew Morrison's new disc, Glee: The Music, Volume 6 and Darren Criss' Starship. logo
Matthew Morrison
(Island Records)

The Glee star and Tony Award nominee makes an impressive debut as a recording artist with this10-track disc, which shows off Morrison's versatility. He can croon with deeply felt emotion and belt out with power.

Morrison's ability to knock a song out of the park is perhaps heard most distinctly on one of the disc's most satisfying tracks, the stirring original rock ballad "Still Got Tonight." The song -- one of four that Morrison penned -- is so successful that it's little wonder why it was featured on the Glee season finale. Similarly, his delicacy with a tune is showcased gorgeously in a lush melancholy ballad written with Tony Award winner Marc Shaiman: "It's Over."

While a couple of the other originals are slight missteps ("My Name" is a cliché-ridden reflection on fame), the duets that Morrison shares with two legends of pop music more than atone for them. The first is "Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot," a duet with Sting that pulses with a profoundly moving soulful energy; the second is a terrific mash-up of "Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters" and "Rocket Man" that finds Morrison matching Elton John's vocal vibrancy note-for-note.

A third duet on the album pairs Morrison with his sometimes Glee co-star Gwyneth Paltrow. The two share remarkable musical chemistry and their rendition of the classic "Over the Rainbow," which uses the same arrangement that he sang on the show as a solo, is so successful that it leaves listeners longing for more collaborations between the two actor-singers.

Glee: The Music, Volume 6
(Sony Music)

This sixth compilation of songs from the hit FOX series is a swell amalgam of genres, delivered with flair. Music theater fans will find not only Chris Colfer's take on "As If We Never Said Goodbye" (from Sunset Boulevard), but also a grand mash-up of West Side Story's "I Feel Pretty" with TLC's "Unpretty," delivered by Lea Michele and Dianna Agron.

The Fleetwood Mac episode of the show is represented with four tracks, most notably Kristin Chenoweth and Matthew Morrison's excellent cover of the group's "Dreams." Elsewhere, listeners will find tunes from the movies, notably the cast's charming rendition of "Pure Imagination" (from Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory), and contemporary hits like Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" (another great group number) and Adele's "Turning Tables" (covered with intensity by Gwyneth Paltrow).

Starship (Starkid Productions)
Glee's Darren Criss has contributed music to this B-movie-like tuner that was seen in Chicago earlier this year about an alien bug's dreams of being like the humans of whom he's heard. The nine-track original cast recording ably demonstrates the score's cheesy charms, and while there's nothing groundbreaking about the music or the performances, there's a bubbly heart at the center of the recording that makes it something of an infectious joy.

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