Monday, February 10, 2020

CD REVIEW: Jagged Little Pill OBCR

As a teen/college guy of the 80's, I missed the generational hysteria surrounding Alanis Morissette's landmark album Jagged Little Pill. I mean, I knew her big mainstream hits from it, of course, appreciating them more as catchy pop songs than as mini masterpieces that "spoke to me." Mostly, though I genuinely enjoy the song "Ironic," my biggest connection to her work was endless arguments with friends, acquaintances and co-workers over the fact that song wasn't actually ironic. (Yes, I recognize the irony in that.)

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when I sat in the Broadhurst Theatre completely, totally enthralled by the lyrics and the music of Jagged Little Pill. It was the first time ever that I bought a cast recording at the theater. I couldn't wait to get home and devour it over and over, which I have. It would be really easy just to say I love this recording and leave it at that. But that would do the recording and all involved a disservice.

Elizabeth Stanley
One reason I love it so much is the sound of it. Tom Kitt's contributions as orchestrator and arranger are first-rate - as exciting on the recording as in the theater. His love for the source material is apparent as he always honors Ms. Morissette's masterwork. But, as he did with American Idiot, he also knows how to make the songs work as theater. Both shows work differently, and better, than other jukebox musicals in large part because of that ability. A tough balancing act, every song on this CD does double duty as both rock song and show tune, and does so brilliantly.

Celia Rose Gooding, Lauren Patten and Company
Another reason this OBCR has remained in heavy rotation at my house is the amazing performances, just as good here as live on stage. I particularly find Elizabeth Stanley's work to be compelling, so nuanced and affecting at every turn.  Especially terrific is her interpretation of "Uninvited." Then there's Sean Alan Krill's tormented "Mary Jane" which follows. It is a one-two punch of emotion. You know, I love listening to Broadway debutante Celia Rose Gooding. Her voice is so natural. And I love Lauren Patten's quirky work, too - "You Oughta Know" is just as amazing as ever. (It's fun to hear them sing together in the hit song "Hand in Pocket.")

Kathryn Gallagher (center)
Both songs that were written specifically for the show, "Smiling" and "Predator" are seamless additions to the Morissette catalog. I'll admit that I was wondering if they'd stand out on the recording without benefit of the masterful staging and choreography that go with both songs in the show. They are just as great in this format. Kudos to Kathryn Gallagher for her work here, especially.

Of course, I get some personal gratification from the inclusion of the dialogue that interrupts "Ironic." It brings back some rather fond (?) memories of years of arguing over it.

Grade: A+


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