Audra McDonald is a fine actress and a remarkable singer. It's going to be hard to write something meaningful about her new album 'Go Back Home' without using the adjective "beautiful" at least a dozen times because her voice is simply, truly, fantastically beautiful (and moreover there are twelve numbers in this collection which all deserve that description!)
Ms McDonald's instrument is an extraordinary thing. It possesses power, flexibility and radiance (the bloom in her upper register can take your breath away!) in equal measure and when allied to her skill in bringing life and meaning to the words we can both feel and understand every musical and emotional nuance she pins down at the heart of each composition in the set.
Stephen Sondheim's 'The Glamorous Life' from 'A Little Night Music' gets a sparkling rendition; Ms McDonald navigates the fiendish rhythmic twists and turns with phenomenal accuracy and real fire. There's deliciously understated humour in her take on Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler's song about how not to find romance in 'Baltimore' and almost unbearable pathos in 'Migratory V' from 'Saturn Returns' by Adam Guettel but perhaps the most memorable moment comes (and you will likely and rightly think me soppy here!) with the sublime performance, stripped down to a poignant arrangement for acoustic guitar and keening violin, of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'Edelweiss' from 'The Sound Of Music'. It's like hearing the song for the very first time.
My album of the year so-far bar none. Trust me here. It's a BEAUTIFUL thing!
I have long been a fan of Audra McDonald, ever since purchasing her "How Glory Goes" Album.. It's been a while since she has issued a new album but in the meantime I have relished her contributions to the "Allegro", "110 in the Shade" and "Porgy and Bess" recordings. This new release is pure magic, displaying her enormous talents as both actress and singer, in a hugely varied and eclectic programme, ranging from show tunes to settings of poems. There are 2 standout tracks, the title song from Kander and Ebb's brave and ambitious "The Scottsboro' Boys" which she delivers with breathtaking poignancy and "I'll be There" from an off-Broadway musical "Ordinary Days" which leaves tears in the eyes. She also displays a flair for comedy in the sardonic "Baltimore". There's a delightfully simple and pure reading of "Edelweiss" in which her husband accompanies her on guitar and she has great fun with "Married Love" a cynical and witty number by Michael John LaChiusa. Really every track delights. In the accompanying booklet she talks interestingly about her choice of material. Highly recommended