Like many leading Broadway ladies do, Laura Bell Bundy has released a solo effort. Having been a featured or starring actress in Wicked, Legally Blonde, and Hairspray, it might seem natural for Bundy to release an album of catchy, big, booming pop songs. However, it wasn't meant to be. Rather, Bundy opted to put on her cowgirl boots, ditch the "Bundy" in her name and record some good old country. Her first solo album Longing for a Place Already Gone, is about 60-percent Dolly Parton and 40-percent Gretchen Wilson. In other words, it's a traditional country album with a redneck spin on the tracks. That, in itself, is the largest problem with the album; its nothing like anything her fans might know. The music itself is actually good, the tunes are well written, and the music is certainly sassy. Plus, Bundy has a great country twang that sings well on record. However, she isn't huge in the personality department on the record, even though the music allots for it. In addition, the blonde's booming chops are missing here, something that she is more than famous for. Thus, the album seems like a sampling from the obscurities of the country music industry, rather than a gift to the ever-so-loyal theater fans who would eat up a contemporary album, much like that presented by other leading ladies Idina Menzel or Julia Murney. A solid, if insipid and uninspiring debut from a lady with more talent than what she knows to do with it, Longing for a Place Already Gone is certainly "Gone" from Bundy's traditional performances and into some traditional country, yet it disconnects the listener from the famous Broadway star, who is starting from the bottom in a genre that is the total opposite of what she's known for. What's the point in starting from the bottom again if you've made it so far in another genre? For the casual listener who is unfamiliar with Bundy's usual work, "Fallin'," "Good Genes," "Texas," and "I'll Make the Money" are great songs for a good singer. However one listen to "Just Me," the most pop-oriented theatrical song on the album, and one will see how much more potential Bundy has if she sticks to what she does best.
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AllMusic Review by Matthew Chisling