I was first introduced to the big Broadway voice of Linda Eder by my wife. I found myself instantly smitten by Eder’s gargantuan, dramatic tones. Her eloquent phrasing was intoxicating and her ability to draw listeners in to the heart of a song, into that theatrical spirit, was second to none.
Eder has released a number of albums to date and has tinkered around with a host of genres, including pop and even country. But her true love was and is the stage. No matter how hard the Arizona-born vocalist might try, those lights and that big Broadway sense of things will always track her down.
Now, her latest record, finds her traversing that ground with precision. The record has its ups and downs, without question, and the song choices are not always up to par. Yet that voice is there through it all, guiding the listener through the good and the not-so-good choices with its sharp, consistent quality. She’s working with Broadway/pop composer Frank Wildhorn again, too.
Now gets off on the right foot with a jazzy cabaret feel on “Not Gonna Fall This Time.” It’s got a Streisand feel to it and Eder makes it work by striking all of the big notes at the end of the phrases. You can almost hear her facial expressions, as strange as it sounds, as her voice runs through the piece with gusto.
“Ordinary People” is a sophisticated, pensive ballad with lots of sweeping strings and gloss. Eder rolls into the larger notes with every upward motion of the backing orchestra. Sweet piano glides along beside her.
There are missteps, however. One is “The Mad Hatter,” a cheesy and abrasive number written for Wildhorn’s upcoming Wonderland musical. It’s not a bad song in its context, I suppose, but it sure feels out of place on Now.
Luckily Eder’s form is high enough to sail past the problems. The smoky “What Did You See Inside the Stars?” is a smouldering number that goes great with some brandy and a candlelit table under the night’s blanket. And “Living in the Shadows” is an expressive piece that floats with Eder’s soft tones and subtle moments.
The Streisand comparisons are, of course, inevitable. Eder has a big voice and she knows how to use it, but she’s got a greater tendency to control herself. This saves some of the more troublesome numbers from heading into disastrous territory, making Now an enjoyable record if you dig the lights and sounds of Broadway.