By Steve Schonberg, editor-in-chief (@CntrOnTheAisle)
Out now, actress and singer Alexa Green (best known as Glinda in the L.A. and San Francisco productions of Wicked) has released “So Good,” a debut album full of heart and soul – and a little more soul for good measure.
Produced by Broadway Records, the album features 12 cover tracks in three distinct styles: country, soul and musical theater. But, her voice leans more naturally into the latter two genres. Although heartfelt throughout the album, Green truly soars when she rips into tracks like the gospel-style “If It’s Over,” and rousing “A Piece of Sky.”
Green opens with this track (“A Piece of Sky”) from the Barbra Streisand film “Yentl.”
It’s a bold choice for a rising performer taking on a song so closely linked to this living legend. Placing Streisand’s version aside (in fairness to Green), it stands out as a moving interpretation, the kind that thrills when Green sings the line, “With all there is, why settle for just a piece of sky?”
A native New Yorker (like Streisand), Green shared in a recent interview, “My parents are musicians so I grew up in a house full of music and art… We were searching for an opening number and A Piece of Sky was actually the last song added. It’s super special to me because my dad plays violin on it,” she said. “It just feels very personal.”
“I wanted an opening that made a statement. It felt like the truest form of my voice; it’s very stripped down and raw but full and rich… I just love that it starts with, ‘It all began,’ the very beginning. It just sets a precedent and throws down the gauntlet, I guess.”
Other standouts include “Casanova Brown”, “Being a Good Isn’t Good Enough” (also a Streisand song), and “Summerfling.”
“Summerfling is one of my favorites for so many reasons,” Green said. “One of them is because of the writers, Jeff Thomson and Jordan Mann. When I got back from doing Wicked they were the first people to take a chance on me and they put me in their musical, Jawbreaker, and gave me a platform in New York City to show who I was.”
Summerfling is a terrific, reflective, pop-driven tune brought illuminatingly to life by Green. She says, “the message really resonates with me and at the time in my life when I was recording this album I had gone through a lot of heartbreak.”
But, as pop, it stands out somewhat from the rest of “So Good.”
“I’m sort of calling it a fusion album with Broadway roots,” Green said after I observed that “So Good” seems to consist of country, soul and musical theater-driven tracks. “I’ve just always been this kind of singer that didn’t really fit into a box. Which I guess is a good and a bad thing in so many ways because it doesn’t make you specific, but I feel like for the first time I’ve really found my voice,” she added.
Green brings excitement to each song, but would have hit us with a knockout if “So Good” featured more songs that leaned into her biggest vocal strength: her soul. While Green says these genres are the ones she intended, the album reveals an actress’ natural tendency to prove, “look at all I can sing (and I tap too!)”
That’s tongue-in-cheek – of course – because, like any actress, Green needs to show range. But, Green’s true heart of the album lies in the soul-driven tracks like her arrangements of the iconic “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “Look to the Rainbow,” as well as the aforementioned “If It’s Over,” which ends in a glorious gospel revival-style riff that found me throwing hands in air.
“I just love gospel. I love soul,” Green shared. “I grew up going to church… I love when people sing and they feel the extreme emotion, it’s just so raw to me.”
With these songs, I assume her fellow worshippers heard some incredible vocals from a young Green, too. Consider me green with envy.