CD Review: BACK TO MY ROOTS (Kate Rockwell)

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by Tony Frankel on June 27, 2018



So when was the last time you put on an album and found yourself regretting that it was over too fast? …found yourself in love with every track? …found it immediately accessible, entertaining, funny, smart, and professional? …found a CD that will please millennials, their parents AND their grandparents? Well, Kate Rockwell — who’s currently kicking it in Mean Girls on Broadway — has released Back to My Roots, a collection of 11 true Broadway showstoppers. (OK, 12 if you count a bonus track; “I’m not saying there’s a bonus track,” she writes. “But. You know. If there was.”)

She projects from here to Poughkeepsie, but she doesn’t have that annoyingly loud, yodeling belt heard from so many of her contemporaries. In fact, she steers clear of all that Whitney Houston/Glee-esque vocal trickery that today’s stage singers think they need to succeed. She’s amusing (her liner notes introducing each tune are hi-LAR-ious) and she acts the hell outta these songs, which while being extraordinarily familiar to any show tune lover sound fresh and dazzling (“Somewhere That’s Green,” “Unexpected Song,” “Song on the Sand”).

She also has good taste, selecting songs from what she calls the “Second Golden Age of Broadway” — ya know, that era from the late 70’s to the late 80’s, before AIDS and Corporate America turned Broadway into [insert rant here]. And even though she has more tunes by Lloyd Webber than Sondheim, I still love her. And the two Sondheim tunes — “Now You Know” from Merrily We Roll Along and “I Know Things Now” from Into the Woods — have been transformed into a hot medley, “I Know Things Now You Know.” I can’t say who did the swell 9-member big band orchestra arrangements, but the successful accompaniment no doubt had to do with producers Michael Croiter and Jason Loffredo and executive producer Yael Silver. The duet with Ariana BeBose, City of Angel‘s “What You Don’t Know About Women” is a bloomin’ jazzy knockout. Rockwell rocks my world. More of this chick, please. Now. I mean it. Now.

photos by Curtis & Cort Photography

Back to My Roots
Kate Rockwell
Broadway Records | 11 tracks (OK, 12) | 38:27
released on April 26, 2018
available on iTunes, Amazon, and Broadway Records

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