After watching ‘Beaches’ the other night, I went on an Idina Menzel kick, listening to her latest album, ‘idina.’ I don’t think I have written about this album since it came out last year, although I certainly have listened to it a lot. Like really, a whole lot.
It would have been easy for Menzel to coast. Every girl and her mother have been singing ‘Let It Go,’ that song from Frozen sung by her, and she could have easily done a covers album of shout songs and people would have bought it by the boatloads. But, and thank God, Menzel has more artistic instincts, and released a pop album of all new songs co-composed by her. I must say it is a pretty brave mood and I think I saw an interview of hers last year with her saying ‘You are either going to love this album or not.’
While I would have loved an album of her singing show music, I kind of dig this album as well. On first listen, one song blended with the next one as if one, but I found a trick to best listen to this album – by putting the album in random status, so each spin becomes a different experience. I love most of these songs, which sound very personal. I love ‘Show me,’ which is about trusting someone after being burned by a love, and her ‘Queen Of Swords’ could be an Ariana grande song but of course Menzel infuses experience and maturity in it that would never be matched by the pony-tailed teen. Listen to the heartbreak in ‘Perfect Story.’ That can only be sung by a woman with world and life experience. Menzel fits and sings it perfectly. My favorite song here is ‘I See You’ where Menzel sings earth mother like, summoning all the broken-hearteds of the world. I hear you, Idina.
This also takes me to the soundtrack to ‘Beaches,’ where Menzel sings five songs. Let’s take ‘Wind Beneath My Wings.’ They wisely tried to get away from Midler’s version, and we get a synth arrangement here that, unfortunately, does not serve the song. In fact, I kind of hate it, as it sounds like it is trying hard to be ‘modern.’ She fares better in ‘The Glory of Love,’ which has a more traditional arrangement, and we can see her voice soar higher here. She covers the Pretender’s ‘I’ll Stand By You’ as well, and while it’s fine, I feel like I have heard her version before. ‘LAst Time’ is a cut from her ‘idina.’ album above, and the song fits a moment in the story perfectly. But my favorite track from the soundtrack is ‘I Can Hear the Music’ which I know from my dear beloved Peggy Lee. I guess thats’ just the kind of guy I am.