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Music Review

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Along the Way


Artist: Bobby Conte Thornton
Label: Broadway Records
RRP: £12.99
Release Date: 24 April 2020

It used to be the case that anyone who set foot on the stage it seemed, released a solo album. We went through a very quiet spell of this over the last 15 years, but thanks to the likes of Broadway Records, we are now starting to see a renaissance. The latest one of these to pass my desk (admittedly a few months ago as I battle to keep up) is Bobby Conte Thornton's Along the Way.

The 13-track album charts the journey of a young person slowly ridding himself of his societal ignorance as he strives to carve his own path in this terrifying world. Through a series of relationships, he reflects on the profound joy, heartbreak and good humour experienced in the pursuit of love, success and connection. And perhaps comes to the understanding that it’s not the mistakes that define one’s life, but how that individual chooses to learn, evolve and live on through those missteps out of brutal honesty, unconditional love and kindness.

Bobby Conte Thornton is a New York-based actor and singer who made his Broadway debut originating the role of Calogero in A Bronx Tale, directed by Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks. He returned to Broadway this spring singing 'Another Hundred People' as PJ in Marianne Elliott’s gender-bent revival of Company. Other New York stage credits include My Fair Lady directed by Michael Arden and Starting Here, Starting Now directed by its lyricist, Richard Maltby, Jr. A graduate of the musical theatre department at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance, BCT starred as Danny Zuko in Grease at Paper Mill Playhouse and Enjolras in Les Misérables at The Muny while pursing his BFA. He subsequently trained in London at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

This album really reminded me of the releases of old from another great label, Varese Sarabande, when the producer Bruce Kimmel put out lots of vocal albums by theatre stars. It’s a classy mix of standards and re-worked show tunes - I hate it when you just get another ‘vanilla’ version of the song that you could hear anywhere. None of that here. Well constructed and imaginative arrangements and orchestrations by James Sampliner, who makes the 10 piece band sound a lot bigger, and yet intimate when needed.

It’s a strong opening with a clever 2fer of 'Nature Boy' and 'Blame It On My Youth' - the later been one of my favourite tracks on this release. Sondheim favourite 'Everyone Says Don’t’ is given a great funk uplift and works really well. 'She Loves Me' works ok as a Mambo, but it’s perhaps a little too cliched for me. I did however love the more traditional working of 'Time Heals Everything' - perfectly delivered.

A proper story telling album and something both performer and label should be proud of.


Ian Gude

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