No One Is Alone
Blessed with a voice powerful enough to move listeners in the last rows
of the highest balcony, Broadway veteran Beechman displays her talents
for restraint on this, her fourth solo release. Take, for instance,
the Sound of Music chestnut 'Climb Every Mountain.' Beechman
has the lung power to grab onto that final high note and jettison it
over the highest Alp. Instead she opts for a lower note and lets the
swell of the orchestra and her own gorgeous instrument carry the final
dramatic moment home. Beechman does still belt out tunes that beg for
it, such as 'You'll Never Walk Alone' from Carousel, and she
puts her own searing stamp on Jennifer Holliday's Dreamgirls
showstopper 'I Am Changing.' In fact, the song's closing lyrics mirror
the strength Beechman has shown during her ongoing eight-year battle
with ovarian cancer: 'I'll change my life/ I'll make a vow/ And nothin's
gonna stop me now.' A fitting coda to this moving and winning album
Laurie Beechman's NO ONE IS ALONE is an inspired collection, from
the choice of material to the performance. Beechman is an artist who
clearly understands the value of life, more so because of her successful
battle with cancer. Already a sensitive singer, a greater depth of emotion
infuses her work, whether she's belting her way through Kicks'
"These Are the Good Times," reflecting on "Being Alive," or extolling
us to "Climb Every Mountain." The theme of Beechman's program is "Songs
of Hope and Inspiration from Broadway," but her own courage adds new
meaning to the album's title song, "There But for You Go I," The
Wiz's "If You Believe," and Dreamgirls' "I Am Changing."
She is joined by her sister, Claudia, for "If We Only Have Love," and
by Sam Harris for an unusual treatment of "Make Our Garden Grow" matched
with "One Hand, One Heart," in a sensitive arrangement by Larry Moore.
Her backup group for "You'll Never Walk Alone" includes Loni Ackerman,
Terri Klausner, Linda Beasley, Armsted Christian, and Victor Pond. Musicl
director Lanny Meyers' orchestrations and arrangements are a bit heavy
handed, but the one he did for "On a Clear Day" is hypnotic. Beechman's
strength dominates this album.
The gloriously soaring and penetrating voice of Beechman, a star of
Broadway (Cats, Les Miserables) and the concert stage, has never
radiated more power. Unfortunately, No One doesn't capture her
full emotional power (she can also be coy, vulnerable, and witty). But
there are moments of splendor, and her shimmering duet with Sam Harris
on "Make Our Garden Grow"/"One Hand, One Heart" is near definitive.
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