Image © Norse Star, Inc. and
Christopher McGovern 2004
Album © PS Classics 2004
Broadway musical diva, Rebecca Luker, deviates from her normal repertoire and sings some wonderful folk/rock covers in her new album, Leaving Home (PS Classics (USA) PS415, 2004). She was very much into rock and folk music as a youngster and the idea behind this album was to pay tribute to some of her favorite folk/rock singers from her youth. Rebecca has certainly put her special touch on some classic songs. Rebecca is the stunning voice of the Aria series of classical crossover albums by Paul Schwartz (review).
With crystal clarity, Rebecca's vocals are showcased throughout this CD. She pays homage to great singer/songwriters in some folk/rock classic melodies by Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Billy Joel, Janis Ian, and of course Lennon and McCartney. She also includes a few show tunes which beautifully balance this collection. "Cherish The Child" from Lizzie Borden (written by album producer Christopher McGovern and Amy Powers) and a duet with Alison Fraser of "Wick" from The Secret Garden are flawlessly performed, and the listener is immediately drawn into the lilting melodies and emotive presentation.
The album includes Stephen Foster's ode, "Old Dog Tray," which Rebecca treats with a tenderness and freshness in her approach.
Rebecca also introduces a couple of songs from upcoming musicals: "Ophelia" from Amanda McBroom's Will's Women and "Fine" from Bill Whitefield and Bill Castellino's Crash Club. She is meticulous in her technique and her gorgeous soprano voice is stunning, although there isn't much call for her higher vocal range in this collection. "I am so not a musical theatre person. I never put on a musical (record at home). I love it, but I do it so much I don't want to listen to it when I go home. I love rock music, and jazz. I love the '70s stuff that I grew up with. I grew up listening to Karla Bonoff. I like mostly that '70s rock. I love Carlos Santana, too."
The CD is overflowing with Rebecca's heartfelt and inspiring musical interpretations in this blend of folk, theatre and pop songs. Drums by Joe Brady, cello by Jennifer Gravenstine, reeds by Pete Kikidakis, piano/keyboards by Christopher McGovern, guitar by Sean Harkness and violin by Jessica Wright are integral in making these songs a standout. The excellent production of this CD only adds to the stunning recordings by Rebecca. One can feel her warmth and personality shining through. Her remarkable rendition of "She's Leaving Home" is a highlight and her efforts are lovingly felt in this exquisite version.
Her dazzling, dramatic vocals are expressive and touching, and transport the listener to a peaceful and idyllic state of mind. Rebecca Luker displays her versatility in this wonderful album,
and she certainly cannot be labeled only as a theatre musical singer. Leaving Home evokes delightful memories of classic folk/rock songs that make you feel that you are home.