Audio Mixer: Greg Wells .
Recording information: Rocket Carousel Studio, Los Angeles, CA.
Photographer: Max Vadukul.
Tony-winning renaissance woman Idina Menzel returns with her fifth studio LP, 2016's idina. Aside from a Christmas album and a live symphonic set of pop standards, this is Menzel's first proper release since 2008's Glen Ballard-produced I Stand. While she's logged plenty of stage time in the eight ensuing years, her most notable contribution came on (or rather, off) screen as the voice of snow queen Elsa in Disney's 2013 smash hit Frozen. Since "Let It Go" entered the pop musical canon, Menzel's powerhouse voice has been heard far and wide. For her return to adult-oriented pop, she tapped producer and songwriter Walter Afanasieff to help craft a sound that's expansive enough to resonate with fans of her stage work while adding a bit of a modern edge, particularly to tracks like the electronic-laced anthem "Queen of Swords," the slinky guitar-rocker "Cake," and the powerful "I Do," a response to her divorce from actor Taye Diggs. As a whole, idina. is by far Menzel's most personal album to date and is a vast improvement on her last studio outing, which framed her strong voice in far blander adult contemporary surroundings, not to mention with less essential material. Largely co-written by Menzel, many of these songs have more vitality and personality to them and she applies herself accordingly to the performances. Not forgetting her wheelhouse, a number of ballads dot the landscape, but even those are less theatrical and moodier than what she is generally known for. There's plenty here to like, and her decision to get personal pays off artistically. ~ Timothy Monger