The title For the Girls makes plain Kristin Chenoweth's intentions for her 2019 album for Concord: she's saluting great women singers by covering songs they popularized. Chenoweth cherrypicks selections from different genres and eras, sometimes not strictly following her own guidelines. Eva Cassidy covered "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" and Linda Ronstadt cut "Desperado" in 1973, but it's hard to not to think of the tunes as belonging to anyone but their respective authors, Buddy Holly and the Eagles. This is hardly much of a flaw, though, especially since both songs belong within the classic modern pop tradition Chenoweth essays throughout For the Girls. She touches upon R&B, country, the Great American Songbook, and girl groups, inviting Dolly Parton to duet with her on "I Will Always Love You," singing with Ariana Grande on Lesley Gore's "You Don't Own Me," and drafting Jennifer Hudson and Reba McEntire for a show-stopping "I'm a Woman." It's a diverse roster of singers and songs, but the Steve Tyrell production smooths over any rough edges, and Chenoweth's consummate Broadway professionalism helps the whole record seem unified; it's a modern update on the kind of albums Barbra Streisand and Dionne Warwick were making at the twilight of the '60s. The blend of nostalgic vibes and contemporary sheen is appealing, particularly because Chenoweth never pushes too hard: she's not reinventing the songs, she's relaxing with them, and it makes for a warm bath of a listen.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: Ariana Grande
feat: Dolly Parton