Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Now" - Linda Eder

Review by Sherry Shaffer
For her latest album, "Now," Linda Eder reunites with the man who brought her to Broadway in Jekyll and Hyde, Frank Wildhorn.  All the songs on the album are Wildhorn originals, including a cut from his new show, Wonderland.
Eder has dabbled in pop and country music, but she has such a massive voice it’s surprising she ever tried to get away from Broadway-style show tunes.  "Now" features big, lavish arrangements and beltable tunes.  It is clear Wildhorn has found a muse in Eder – it must be a joy to write for someone with such an incredible range.  When listening to this album, comparisons to Barbara Streisand are inevitable – and at this point almost overdone, which I think this does both women a disservice.  Sure, both pack a punch when it comes to being able to convey passion and feeling through song, and I doubt either really need a microphone to fill a room, but they have different voices, different taste, and are from different generations.  That being said, if you like one, you’re probably going to like the other.  Especially since many of the songs on "Now" sound like they are straight out of a Streisand-heyday '60s cabaret show.  I half expected Sammy Davis, Jr. to come in to perform a Burt Bacharach tune.
As much as I enjoyed a number of the songs on this album, I kind of wish Eder had chosen to do more than a Frank Wildhorn songbook.  Some of the tunes are great, the album starts off with a bang with a jazzy rumba, “Not Gonna Fall This Time,” then moves into the sentimental “No Finer Man” and “Ordinary People.”  But when it switched back to a Latin rhythm for “In the Heat of the Night,” I felt like I’d gone back to the beginning of the album.  It’s catchy, but very similar to the first track, and “What’s Never Been Done Before” and “More Than Heaven” seemed uninspiring.  While I think it was a misstep to include “The Mad Hatter” on this album – it just doesn’t fit in with what is otherwise a group of songs about love – at least it’s a fun song and may turn out to be a showstopper on stage.  Perhaps she did it as a courtesy plug for Wildhorn’s newest show. 
That, I suppose, is my only real criticism of this album.  In an attempt to do nothing but Wildhorn songs, Eder sacrificed some continuity of theme and the opportunity to show off her magnificent voice with a better variety of songs.  You are rarely going to find an album that doesn’t have a ho-hum moment or two, but Eder has the voice and charisma to put together a spectacular collection if she would just make careful choices among several composers. 
Bottom line: If you enjoy a big sound from a bigger voice, you’re going to like "Now."  Be sure to listen in a place where you can crank up the stereo and let the flood of sound wash over you. 

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