I love Songs for a New World as much as any other musical theatre fan . . . probably more. As far as song cycles go, I've never heard better. As far as music goes, you'd be hard-pressed to find better. Jason Robert Brown has an unbelievable ability to create the most beautiful piano pieces out of the simplest sounds and his lyrics . . . holy crap, we're not even going into that. It will reduce me to some blathering pile of goo. Anyway, LOVE Songs for a New World . . . until the strings come in.
What? Strings? you say. I though you loved strings! I thought they made you spazz and flail like nothing else and profess your undying love for the composer and/or musician, sometimes to their faces, even if they're complete strangers!
This is all very true. The problem is the strings on the cast recording aren't real strings. They are electronically reproduced strings. I used to just blow it off as me being picky, but then I got this really kick ass pair of headphones (Grado SR60) for Christmas. Songs sounds RIDICULOUSLY amazing on these babies. Like, so-good-it-should-be-illegal amazing. And then the fake!strings come in and it makes me want to cry. The difference between the real!instruments and fake!strings is quite distressing. Having heard it live with real cellos and violins, the fake!strings are even sadder. ESPECIALLY in "Hear My Song" when the strings come in at the climax and because of the dorkiness, the climax just doesn't work.
So I want a new recording. Please? Because, clearly, the Broadway gods listen to me. Just for kicks, my dream cast:
Laura Benanti as Woman 1 - her "Christmas Lullaby" is one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard.
Alice Ripley as Woman 2 - her "Flagmaker, 1775" would -- I don't even want to think about how amazing that would be.
Norm Lewis as Man 1 - listen to "You Should Be Loved" from Side Show and just TRY to tell me his "King of the World" won't kick your ass from here to doomsday.
Norbert Leo Butz as Man 2 - arguably the most talented actor on Broadway right now with a chocolaty smooth voice that just spills from his lips. Delicious. A little "I'd Give It All For You" from him and I'm a goner.
Eh, like it'll ever happen. But a girl can dream, can't she?