When I realized this was a new release, I had to immediately add it to the list. This is a show I've been excited about simply based on one song, "Falling Slowly." I then saw a commercial that stopped me in my tracks, and am so incredibly excited to see it in a few weeks.
Going into this soundtrack should be interesting. Yes, the broadway show is similar to the movie of the same name (which, of course, I haven't seen). Here's the description from the website:
"Once is the celebrated new musical based on the Academy Award-wining film. It tells that story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant drawn together by their shared love of music. Over the course of one fateful week, their unexpected friendship and collaboration evolves into a powerful but complicated romance, heightened by the raw emotion of the songs they create together. Brought to the stage by an award-winning team of visionary artists and featuring an ensemble of gifted actor/musicians, Once is a musical celebration of life and love: thrilling in its originality, daring in its honesty... and unforgettable in every way."
Follow along with me on Spotify, as we take a musical journey through this show, and only begin to imagine how it might play out on that stage.
"Leave" brings is down to a more solemn level, and then this... voice... comes in. My heart has just been completely calmed by this. "Leave. Leave. Free yourself at the same time. ... I don't understand - you've already gone." Oh holy crap, this album is going to make me cry exactly a month before I actually see the show. I want to shove this at someone in particular right this second. That seems harsh, but if you were me you'd understand. This tortured voice is so incredibly pure and wonderful. Ahhh, I love when emotion translates through speakers. While the ad libbing later isn't exactly wonderful at the end, it's passionate, and that's all that counts right now.
Okay... watch this for me first.
<<intentional quiet space>>
"The Moon" starts like some hipster guitar number from down in Brooklyn, which means I'll either love it or completely despise it because I can't make up my damn mind about that scene. When the harmonies come in though, the words take on more meaning and wholeness. It's an incredibly dark sounding song in certain spots, and then very uplifting in others, like it can't make the decision. Then, just as suddenly as is had built, the song is gone.
Ooohhh a little flavor added in with "Ej Pada Pada Rosicka." Yes, I just used flavor to describe a very Jewish sounding song. It's fun though! I can only imagine it being the dance number for really no reason other than the rhythms. The tamborines involved bring an additional level of fun to the song. This is a nice break from the very depth that has been entangling us for the past few songs, and let's face it - the relief is sort of nice.
"If You Want Me" takes back the simplicity of before, with a deep voice of the old country. The flavor of this is fascinating, as the strings used provide this incredible gypsy tone to the whole thing, and the voice over it uses dynamics of such strain and softness. It's just completely enveloping.
A small little diddy, just used to tell a story, is "Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy." There's a lot of Irish music that tells about heartbreak, while maintaining a fun melodic tone, and this fits right along with it.
"Say It To Me Now" brings back that beautiful voice. I may have a new Broadway crush (sorry Adam Pascal). And oh man... when he switched into an angry belt, I'm just done. The heartbreak amongst the simple guitar accompaniment is too much to bear on the fragile heart of a girl. And the message? It's so simple - if you have something to say, say it now. We should all be so smart as to listen.
A gentleman that I can only, based on sound, assume is the comic relief, sings "Abandoned In Bandon." Another quick little song about a man and his lost love... I think. It's a little tough to understand from time to time. All I know is this sounds like entertainment for sure.
"Gold" is the gentlemen's chance to harmonize perfectly. The guitar simply acts as a way to move it along, thought I could envision this without the strings at all. They enhance the song, for sure. Yet, the lyrics remain a song for everyone to take in at their hearts. There's lines about what is gold and what is of value. I think it's more enchanting than anything else. When the instrumental section hits, I'm convinced that those strongs are actually completely necessary to tie the intensity of the song at the points it is needed. They're like... gold.
It's no lullaby, but this sounds like a song you'd sing to someone while they sleep beside you: "Sleeping." It's stil very light, like a lot of the song have been. But god, that raw emotion is completely there. This entire score takes on very simple phrases and reminds us of their power. Case in point: "How am I supposed to live without you? The wrong words said in anger, and you were gone." No frilly language necessary, not big problems to report, just a simple fight and a bitter pain.
"When Your Mind's Made Up" sounds so familiar for some reason, but just in the tone. It's just got a familiar feeling. It's interesting how the music moves a little faster than the words, because they're trying to make their point without rushing. There's a bite to these words though - like there's some anger here that we haven't really heard quite yet. We've possibly reached the boiling point of the show - it certainly sounds that way.
"It Cannot Be About That" is an intense quick interlude with the strings. It's the moment, in my mind, where Mimi's gone missing, if you understand that reference. There's a theme of "Falling Slowly" played in a frantic manner, as if something clearly gone wrong. The chorus is wonderful, but frightening in the best way theatre can be.
The new version of "Gold (A Cappella)" took me by surprise, despite seeing it on the playlist. It's like someone else knew what I was thinking about the instrument usage. Well, I mean, obviously they planned it that way. It's just nice to be re-affirmed that my instincts are okay.
"Falling Slowly (Reprise)" is the closing song, appropriately. You can barely hear it at first - I had to crank the volume up. The instruments give a definite close-out feel. Then the words come in just as gently as before, with that slight hesitation to totally feel, which is what defines this song so perfectly. Time to just enjoy the ending as the entire cast comes in to understanding.
Added to My Playlist:
- "The North Strand"
- "Falling Slowly"
- "Say It To Me Now"
- "When Your Mind's Made Up"
- "It Cannot Be About That"
- "Falling Slowly (Reprise)"
I remember hearing Rent for the first time when I was younger, and every time after, and thinking that love was something that was so often prompted by tragedy and sadness. In time, my view's evolved in to a tad more optimistic, yet terribly pessimistic in some weird way, that love is actually something of such extreme depth that we'll never fully understand it - and we never should. It should be something organic and beautiful, and grow from unknown places. There's no way to put into words why we love the way we do, and that's never needed.
I believe that Once has, already in just hearing the music, captured this. There's no explanation needed for loving someone, you just need to let go and give in to wherever it's melodies are drifting you off to.