It’s telling that Lea Salonga chose ‘Blurred Lines’ to title her new album. She sings the Robin Thicke hit – seemingly an unlikely choice – on her newest album, which is a live performance from her residency at 54 Below in New York City last Spring. The song is a bit of a departure for her ‘persona,’ as she is known to sing nice wholesome songs. Here she gets too ooh and cooh and gets to show her sexy side. She takes on a couple of pop songs here – One Directions’ ‘The Story Of My Life,’ John Legend’s ‘All Of Me’ – and she mostly does well with them, but she sounds like she is slumming, because, her voice – one of the greatest voices in theater today, with its peerless precise perfect pitch – stands out best when she is singing theater songs and standards. For example, I love her version of Jeff Blumenkratz’s ‘I Won’t Mind.’ It may not replace my all time favorite version, which is Audra McDonald’s, but it comes close. And I love two of her medlettes: the closer – How Do You Keep The Music Playing/How Deep Is the Ocean – and the combo of Beatles and Kander & Ebb in Blackbird/A Quiet Thing. there’s even a slight huskiness in her voice on the latter, probably because she had just finished her run in ‘Allegiance’ at that time. The ‘A Song For You/I Can’t Make You Love Me’ arrangement is a miss for me – in the slight uptempo version here, the poignancy in the latter song is missed. Her ‘Greatest Hits Medley,’ where she sings all her ‘signature’ songs, seems like an afterthought here, but it is very well remembered.
All in all, the disc is a nice souvenir of her cabaret act. But I still long for a nice studio album from her. It will suffice all our Lea Salonga cravings, but we all sure want more!