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Music Review

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An American Victory
A New Musical
Studio Cast Recording


Music: Louis R. Bucalo
Lyrics: Louis R. Bucalo
Performed by: Ashley Brown, Adam Jacobs, John Owen-Jones, Ramin Karimloo, Hugh Panaro and Aaron Tveit
Label: Broadway Records
Release Date: 22 April 2016

In what seems to be a never-ending sea of releases from Broadway Records, comes their next brave Concept Album - this time, An American Victory.

Featuring an all-star cast headlined by Ashley Brown, Adam Jacobs, John Owen-Jones, Ramin Karimloo, Hugh Panaro and Aaron Tveit, this sweeping, epic album features twenty-one songs from the musical written by new composer Louis R. Bucalo. An American Victory is set in 1801, as America experiences brutal attacks on its ships by government sponsored pirates, whose extortion demands have grown to reach twenty percent of the entire government’s budget. Based on actual historical events, An American Victory tells the story of an audacious act of defiance against organized terror that forever changes the lives of all those caught in the swirling struggle, and the path of a nation.

There’s no doubting the talent on show here - to have one of those names on your recording is always a bonus, to have them all is pure delight. Each performs their lot well, in fact I cannot fault any of the performances here. They come across extremely well, and sound superb thanks to the usual high standards that come with each and every Broadway Records release.

However, for me this is a flawed recording for two reasons. The quality of the music and lyrics are not the best. The music is unfortunately, in the main, forgettable. I listened to the CD five times, and still could only remember the hook from one number. The rest felt like a ‘first listen’ every time. They aren’t bad songs, just nothing really there to make you go back and listen to your favourite. The lyrics don’t really propel the story along either - as a good lyric should - and are functional at best.

The second reason is that this is a really difficult album to follow if you aren’t sat with the (excellent) CD booklet with you. You don’t get any clue from any sort of narration or libretto as to what is actually happening, and the same character is voiced by several actors, so that makes it even harder.

It’s certainly an epic sounding album - and the addition of the New York Choral Society on the final track adds to this. ‘The Road You’re On’ is the catchiest track for me on the album for me, and the only track I could really remember after successive listens. I must also mention ‘I Could Never Be The One’ as this is superbly performed by Ashley Brown - and is probably my favourite.

What is worth a mention, and probably helps to make this recording an enjoyable listen, is the quality of the orchestra, and the quality of the orchestrations which are first rate. It’s a group effort on that front, although with names like Michael Starobin and Kim Scharnberg on the list, you are never going to go far wrong. What strikes me is that Bucalo is also credited as an orchestrator, as well as being the lyricist, composer and producer. Perhaps the cause would be helped by concentrating on one area? Just a thought.

A good release again by Broadway Records, if a little let down by the quality of the material.


Ian Gude

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