Linda Eder

Storybook

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In the early '90s while enjoying the success of her star-making performances on the musical concept album Jekyll & Hyde and the Broadway-bound stage version, Linda Eder recorded two albums for Angel Records. The first was The Scarlet Pimpernel, another musical concept album by Jekyll & Hyde composer Frank Wildhorn, while the second was the solo disc And So Much More, also produced and mostly composed by Wildhorn. Songs from these two albums are revisited on Storybook along with some minor treasures unearthed from the Angel vaults. Among these unreleased gems are "Vole Mon Ange" and "If He Never Said Hello," both from Svengali, a non-Broadway musical by Wildhorn that starred Eder. In the aria "Vole Mon Ange," Eder's voice reaches with gusto into Sarah Brighman's operatic territory while the sweet contemporary ballad "If He Never Said Hello" sounds like it was lifted directly from one of Barbra Streisand's latter-day efforts. Whether intended or not, Eder has always had to deal with comparisons to Streisand's voice and phrasing, but she unabashedly invites the criticism with this eerily similar performance. More successful is Wildhorn and Jack Murphy's ode to big-band swing, "One Bad Habit." Backed by a hot band, Eder excitedly wraps her chords around an intense melody that reaches an exhaustive climax thanks to numerous key changes. On "Let Him Fly," an immense show-stopping ballad, Eder's voice soars higher and higher, keeping pace with the orchestra, until she sounds perilously close to crashing on the final note. These newly discovered recordings are far more interesting than the previously released material included on the disc such as her pedestrian walks through the standards "All the Way," "Smile," and "The Man That Got Away." However, it is through these early renditions that a listener can appreciate how over the years Eder's voice and her interpretive skills have matured and improved. While not an essential purchase, Storybook does hold a few treats for fans and documents Eder's early days of recording when her Broadway debut was just around the corner and her star was on the rise.

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