Now Hear This: The Cast Recording of Hamilton
Associate Editor discusses the cast recording of one of the most anticipated Broadway shows in years.
Before famous historical figures established their legacy, they were living, breathing people just like us. Eventually, an individual's actions will help define who they were in the eyes of both their peers and the generations that follow, but there's always a story of what made them the person they came known to be.
Founding Father Alexander Hamilton is having his story told in the Broadway smash hit Hamilton (a production with Erie ties, with social media management by McDowell High School grad Mike Karns). This isn't your typical musical, however, as Hamilton blends the world of contemporary Broadway with hip-hop, making for a memorable score.
That score was released Friday, Sept. 25, a treat for excited fans who can't make the trek (or find available tickets) to the show playing at The Richard Rodgers Theatre. While the official cast recording can't truly replace the experience of seeing the show live on stage, it does a rather impressive job.
At nearly two-and-a-half hours long, the recording is a committment to listen to in a single go, but it's well worth it. Lin-Manuel Miranda's stunning musical impresses with not only it's vast range of influences and stunning compositions, but also how well it conveys the tale of Hamilton through a simple pair of headphones.
The impressive cast - which includes Daveed Diggs of clipping. as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson - does a tremendous job bringing their characters to life on the recording. In addition, the songs are stunning, a wonderful blend of modern and classic influences. Hell, it's hard not to be intrigued by the prospect of founding fathers rapping.
It doesn't hurt when the lyrics are as shvarp as in Hamilton. Second track "Aaron Burr, Sir" sets an early bar for impressive wordplay. From there, Miranda's music moves effortlessly from rousing to heartbreaking to straight up fun (Jonathan Groff's performance as King George is particularly amusing). Lyrical motifs are cleverly and effectively repurposed throughout the musical, a touch that works so well. And even with the the eventual fate of the titular character set in stone well before the show - hundreds of years, in fact - the score does a tremendous job breaking your heart throughout the second act. Phillipa Soo's powerful performance as Eliza Schulyer Hamilton in "Burn" alone could drive a listener to tears.
You may not be able to make it to Broadway, but the cast recording of Hamilton can still bring the vibrancy of the musical - and the story of Alexander Hamilton - to your ears.
Now Hear This is a regular column in which Associate Editor Alex Bieler writes about music - both new and old - that he thinks you should introduce to your ears. If you've know an album that you think he should highlight, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet at him at @Catch20Q.