Memory and Mayhem: Live at 54 BELOW allows Broadway fans of two-time Tony Award winner Norbert Leo Butz to hear a side of him that may get masked when he dons a character for the stage.
Audiences will have noticed the rock and blues influence in Butz's singing throughout his career in shows like Rent, Last Five Years, and Catch Me If You Can. In his debut solo album, Butz lets loose in his own style of rock and popular music, covering styles from American Songbook classics to modern rock anthems and a couple of country tunes as well.
Butz rocks out on his opening vocal number, "Home," conjuring visions of true rockers who clearly inspire his personal singing style. The arhythmic "The Waking" is an odd song whose only purpose seems to be to show off Butz' vocal range, which he does quite well from well-placed low notes and a glissando up to his crystal clear falsetto.
"I Could Be in Love With Someone Like You" is a tune obviously written by Jason Robert Brown and inspired by Brown's "Shiksa Goddess" Last Five Years. Butz's style rings true on "Killing the Blues," a song with clear blues and country influence. Playing the guitar throughout the show, Butz's handy-work can be appreciated on songs such as "Can't Let Go."
Butz waxes poetic about his new daughter and croons a bluesy, heartfelt homage in her honor on the Hoagy Carmichael classic, "Georgia On My Mind." He even tackles the Alicia Keys song, "No One," pouring his heart into the song that he dedicates to his three daughters.
In thanking the band, Butz acknowledges David Rimelis as playing everything but the kitchen sink. He also thanks his pal Kenny Brescia, who was the guitar player for the original production of Rent, and Broadway star Lauren Kennedy for providing background vocals.
The genres on Memory and Mayhem range from rock, blues, and country to musical theatre and American songbook. A master pop musical theatre vocalist, Butz transverses all the styles effortlessly. Butz is clearly in control of his voice and his delivery throughout the album, regardless of a song's style at any given moment.
Norbert Leo Butz's Memory and Mayhem: Live at 54 BELOW is another high caliber offering from 54 BELOW, which is quickly becoming a landmark venue for Broadway stars to stretch their wings and give fans a glimpse into the songs the stars sing for themselves when they are away from the glittering lights of Broadway.
One can only hope Butz will either get into a studio to record another album or hit the stage at 54 BELOW again soon. A well-crafted, humorous, emotional storytelling style such as Norbert Leo Butz's should not be reserved for cast albums only. Fans deserve to hear the man sing in his own style.
- 1. Intro
- 2. Home
- 3. The Way Young Lovers Do
- 4. The Waking
- 5. I Could Be in Love With Someone Like You
- 6. Killing the Blues
- 7. Can't Let Go [featuring Lauren Kennedy]
- 8. Intro: Remembering Well
- 9. If These Walls Could Speak
- 10. Poison and Wine [featuring Lauren Kennedy]
- 11. Intro: Georgia
- 12. Georgia on My Mind
- 13. Intro: My Girls
- 14. No One
- 15. Intro: I Had This Dream?
- 16. Sixteen Tons/Great Big Stuff
- 17. Intro: The Band
- 18. Broken Bicycles
- 19. Be Mine
- 20. Shadow of Doubt
Memory and Mayhem: Live at 54 BELOW is produced by Aaron Ankrum, who also produced Laura Osnes: Dream A Little Dream, and Michael Moritz, and is Executive Produced by Van Dean and Kenny Howard, of The Broadway Consortium, and Ken Mahoney.