Julie Wilson

Sings the Stephen Sondheim Songbook

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Julie Wilson Sings the Stephen Sondheim Songbook is Wilson's fifth solo album overall, but her first in 26 years. (Eight of those years, 1976-1983, were spent in a temporary retirement caring for her parents.) About a decade into that interregnum, she appeared in the national tours of the Sondheim musicals Company, Follies, and A Little Night Music, during which she would have discovered, if she didn't know already, that he had a particular affinity for writing songs for women of a certain age. Such songs from those shows form the backbone of this album, as Wilson addresses key Sondheim standards such as "The Ladies Who Lunch," "Send in the Clowns," and "I'm Still Here" that reward her sophisticated, been-around-the-block perspective. They come in the second half of the disc, with the first half given over to generally lighter and more amusing fare. Wilson is unabashed about spelling out the double entendres in numbers like "Can That Boy Foxtrot!" and "I Never Do Anything Twice," and she sings the medley of songs from Merrily We Roll Along, "Good Thing Going" and "Not a Day Goes By," evenly. But she is at her best in the later material, with its tones of regret and persistence. Accompanied solely by pianist William Roy (who chimes in with the occasional vocal), she speak-sings many of the lyrics, the better to savor the wit and wordplay, but chooses her moments to soar. There is no dearth of good interpretations of the Sondheim repertoire, but this is an especially good one to add to the collection.

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