CD Review: Audra McDonald - How Glory Goes (2000)

“In the starlight, that is what we are"

Having firmly established her credentials as a fervent supporter of new musical theatre on her first album Way Back to Paradise, Audra McDonald allows herself a dip into the Great American Songbook on her second collection How Glory Goes. But maintaining that link with contemporary writing, the CD blends the old and the new with the effortless charisma of McDonald’s superlative voice.

In particular, she turns to the music of Harold Arlen - from ‘Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home’ to ‘I Had Myself a True Love’, ‘A Sleepin' Bee’ to ‘I Never Has Seen Snow’, his classic songwriting meshes perfectly with the purity of McDonald’s soprano and the freshness of her approach. Show Boat’s ‘Bill’ similarly shimmers as do the lesser-known (to me at least) Jeff Blumenkrantz’s “I Won’t Mind and Steve Marzullo’s ‘I Hid My Love’.

The album’s high-point though comes in its final third. Gorgeously restrained takes on ‘The Man That Got Away’ and West Side Story’s ‘Somewhere’, which lead into Floyd Collins’ ‘How Glory Goes’ and Violet’s ‘Lay Down Your Head’ draw the emotional line between Arlen and Adam Guettel, the cosmic connection between Leonard Bernstein and Jeanine Tesori. A fascinating and fabulous album that further cements McDonald’s impressive reputation.

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