Happy Hippie (Music Thoughts, Renaissance, Cheyenne Jackson)

2016-07-04-1467674740-6122782-Renaissance-thumbThe great Michael Feinstein describes Cheyenne Jackson as someone who “can sing anything!” Jackson is a modern man’s renaissance man, someone who can effortlessly move from stage to television to movies. And musically, he can move from one genre to another without missing a beat. His new album ‘Renaissance’ proves that. Thematically this is a collection of songs from the 60s, culled from songs he sings from his cabaret show ‘Songs From The Mad Men Era.’

So he goes from Broadway (‘Feeling Good’ from ‘The Roar Of The Greasepaint, The Smell Of The Crowd) to bluesy R & B (‘A Change Is Gonna Come’) to pop rock ‘(Elton John’s ‘Your Song) with ease and confidence. I love the variety of arrangements here, from the Latin flair of ‘Besame Mucho,’ to Ska-ish ‘Americano,’ sung with the English lyrics of The Brian Setzer Orchestra. And I get positively giddy when he duets ‘Something Stupud’ with his 30 Rock co-star Jane Krakowski. They certainly put a lot of their characters in singing that song, and it’s mirth is infectious. He gets serious and artsy with Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case Of You,’ and in a song he composed with Feinstein himself, ‘Red Wine Is Good For You.’ It’s a song about his late grandmother who used to say that phrase to him.

I guess if I were to nitpick, I could say that I wish the repertoire were  little more adventurous, as most of these songs are too familiarly associated with the era, but I guess I would be repurposing his theme. The good thing about the album is that not only do you see Jackson’s great musicality, but also his great personality in the way he sings his songs. In both ways, a win-win!

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