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December 11, 2019   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Broadway star produces mellow yet bland album

For The Girls

Concord Records

Kristin Chenoweth’s newest album, “For The Girls,” is a cover album featuring 12 songs, the majority of which were originally recorded by women. Chenoweth, well-known for her role as Glinda in the Broadway cast of Wicked, has dabbled in recording country and pop but is most celebrated for her operatic soprano voice. In “For The Girls,” Chenoweth explores a wide range of music but leaves something to be desired when it comes to variety.

It’s clear from the beginning that the album showcases a softness different from much of Chenoweth’s other work. The majority of the tracks on the album were originally written and recorded decades earlier. Because of this, “For The Girls” would likely appeal to those with an affinity for the music style of the ’60s and ’70s. The mellow nature of the album makes for easy listening, although with so many soft tracks, the album can feel repetitive. “I Wanna Be Around,” — one of the songs on the album originally recorded by Tony Bennet — has an easygoing jazz style incredibly similar to Chenoweth’s cover of Dinah Washington’s “What A Diff’rence A Day Makes.”

Chenoweth does seem to connect with every track on “For The Girls.” Her delivery comes across as heartfelt and personal. Chenoweth’s vocal talent is irrefutable, and she is able to project her voice without compromising its gentle and emotional nature. However, knowing Chenoweth’s abilities, some tracks leave more to be desired. In her version of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” originally by The Shirelles, Chenoweth starts showcasing her extensive range but quickly pulls back.

Most of the covers on “For The Girls” are really just that — covers. Stylistically, Chenoweth brings nothing new to revive these songs. Chenoweth has the vocal groundwork to bring aged tracks into the current decade but falls flat because of a lack of risk-taking.

There are a few exceptions to the monotony of Chenoweth’s album. Chenoweth does not just cover the work of inspiring female artists — she sings alongside them as well. The collaborations with outside artists are the highlights of the album. Chenoweth duets with Dolly Parton on “I Will Always Love You.” The track is mellow, but the soft harmonies contrast with the usually belted, traditional execution of the song.

Christine Kittrell’s “I’m A Woman” offers much-needed variety to the album. Featuring Jennifer Hudson and Reba McEntire, every artist brings their own individual style to their part of the song. Chenoweth collaborates with Ariana Grande on “You Don’t Own Me,” and Grande adds a needed amount of youth to the album. While Chenoweth and Grande’s vocal styles aren’t always cohesive, the track features some belting and runs that make up for the lack thereof in other tracks.

While Chenoweth dropped the ball in complexity and individuality, “For The Girls” is easy-listening music that could be played in the background. Its tracks convey strong emotions and powerful messages but lack the zest to see them through.

Cora Payne can be reached at cpayne2@ithaca.edu