Thursday, May 19, 2011

cd review- Karen Mason- Not So Simply Broadway

Karen Mason is an accomplished, actress, singer and cabaret performer.  She's appeared in several Broadway shows, including Wonderland, which closed last week.  With the closing of the show on my mind, I thought I'd review my favorite of Karen's CDs.

Karen's voice is such a force of nature, with such depth, clarity and strength it is easy to see why she was the standby for all three of Broadway's Norma Desmond's in Sunset Boulevard.  Karen also starred as Tanya in the original Broadway cast of Mamma Mia, receiving a Drama Desk award nomination and originated one of the three female roles in the Off Broadway Kander and Ebb review, And The World Goes Round, receiving an Outer Critic's Circle Award for that part.

Karen's Not So Simply Broadway recording features some amazing arrangements that are jazzy and let the band members shine on several solo moments as well as compliment Karen's voice,  the first track combines "Follow Me" from Camelot and "Something's Coming" from West Side Story.  It is a beautiful arrangement and Karen really makes the coupling of these two songs her own.  I love her rendition of  "I've Grown Accustomed to His Face" from My Fair Lady and her take on Finian's Rainbow's " If This Isn't Love" is so heartfelt and it soars to the rafters.

Mason's take on Carousel's "Mr. Snow" is dreamy and lush with a beautiful flute accompaniment that perfectly plays off of as well as combines with Mason's voice.  "Colored Lights" from The Rink isn't the overblown production that some other singers have recorded, but delivered in a measured manner with an underlying driving force.  This is followed by another selection from Finian's Rainbow, "Devil Moon."   The arrangement for this song is jazzy, with a sax solo that perfectly exhibits the feeling behind the lyrics.  The way the sax combines with Mason's voice in the second half of the song is breathtaking with the ending allowing Mason and the sax to combine as if in a dance.  This is probably my favorite track on the recording.

"Nothing Really Happened" from Is There Life After High School?  is a story song, and Mason knows the importance of focusing on the lyrics to tell the story.  Her attention to the lyrics also isn't missed on "This Nearly Was Mine" from South Pacific.  Delivered in a dreamy way, with an arrangement that builds perfectly to compliment Mason's building delivery of the song.  These serious songs are followed by the somewhat comical "Hey Look Me Over" from Wildcat.   Mason has some fun with this one, wrapping her voice around the lyric rhymes but ending with a big flourish.  The cd ends with "Never, Never Land" from Peter Pan which has yet another beautiful arrangement to accompany Mason.  I love how she doesn't deliver this song in the typical way it's been done before, but slows it down to make it more of a message for the young and young at heart, ending with a couple of lyrics from her opening song "Something's Coming" to tie the whole album together.

All in all, a highly recommended cd.  I'll review some of Karen's other CDs in future posts, as she has several out there.

Amazon link for the cd - Not So Simply Broadway

Amazon link for MP3's of the cd - Not So Simply Broadway

Amazon MP3 Clip previews-

Karen performing "This Nearly Was Mine" -

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