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| 17 October 2016 | Reply


Label: Warner Bros. Records

Release Date: September 23, 2016

Rating: 9.5/10

Reviewed by: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur

Way before “Let It Go” I was digging Idina Menzel and her blend of music that married the theatrical flair with a pop sensibility, and even tossed in some rock grooves for good measure.  Her latest disc is a little more melancholic that the last disc, but this is the most personal album she has recorded according to Idina herself.  Disc opener “Small World” is an infectious track that draws you in with her vocals from the first word and keep you engaged when the catchy chorus kicks in.  This song may be a goodbye of sorts in more ways than one to her past.  The song has several play on words moments that her fans should catch.  “Like Lightning” is a great track that allows Menzel’s vocals to soar above the mix, especially at the emotionally charged chorus that grabs you and keeps you engaged through the verse and bridge.  Lead single “I See You” drives home the personal message of the disc, with this killer song that opens showcasing Idina’s vocals paired perfectly with a piano interlude.  The song builds in emotion and sound never failing to impress and please.  “Show Me” takes you deep within the mind and heart of Menzel as she recounts pieces of her life since her last studio disc.  The way the track builds through the verse into a chorus and bridge that seem to soar above the track.  The lyrics are very telling and are presented beautifully by the musical accompaniment.  “I Do” is another song that takes on a different feel than most of the other songs, but don’t let the feel confuse you – this is a darker track that really shines a light on the personal themes written into the various tracks.  The upbeat groove of this track is an outstanding contrast to the downbeat lyrical content that is delivered and combined with perfection.  “Extraordinary” sounds as if it were ripped from Menzel’s Broadway songbook, with big vocals, a great story written into the lyrics, and the orchestral sound that helps bring this track to life.  While a bit subdued compared to other tracks on the disc, this comes across as one of my favorites in the bunch.

“Queen Of Swords” is the second single released from the disc, but the most infectious of the collection.  The tempo and cadence provided by the drums and bass are perfectly suited for the songs sound and message.  The chorus is catchy and has a cool pop quotient that should make this a hit and live stand out.  “Everybody Knows” is a cool track that has a slightly different feel and groove than most of the tracks on this disc, without totally deviating from the vibe of the other songs.  Listening to Idina’s vocals over the mix makes me wonder when someone will convert this into a dance track with a heavier beat and sound.  “Last Time” has an earthy feel that seems woven through the track, from the tamer vocal that demonstrates the emotion behind the song to the darker sound of the musical counterparts of piano and synth sounds.  I enjoy the way this song shows off another side of Menzel and her abilities as a performer.  “Cake” has a great sound and vibe that come together and surround the lyrics with a blanket of fun.  The emotion of the lyrics is captured in Idina’s vocals and adds a bit of fun and flair to the songs reggae-influenced sound.  “Perfect Story” was issued as the fourth single from the disc and after a listen or two through the disc it is understandable why.  The use of the guitar and programmed music underneath her crisp vocals gives her voice and the track in general a lift and added punch without adding unneeded bulk to the song.  Disc closer “Nothin’ In This World” opens with a different sound from Menzel that flashes hints of a raspier/sexier Idina that is shedding parts of her past and blossoming into a new person, mother, and performer.  After listening to this track, I cannot wait to see what comes next.

If you dig Idina and want to hear two songs that should have been included on all versions of this disc, pick up the Target version of the release, as “Bitter Core” and “Stronger Than Hate” and both great songs, with the two tracks delivering a cool retro pop-rock sound that benefits from Menzel’s vocals and the upbeat sound of the music underneath.

Tracklisting: Small World – Like Lightning – Queen Of Swords – I See You – Everybody Knows – Show Me – Last Time – I Do – Cake – Extraordinary – Perfect Story – Nothin’ In This World

Bonus Tracks: Bitter Core – Stronger Than Hate






Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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