Personnel: Will Swenson, Kevin Kuhn (guitar); Michael Roth , Emily Yarbrough, Antoine Silverman, Entcho Todorov (violin); Hiroko Taguchi (viola); Sara Hewitt-Roth, Anja Wood (cello); Aaron Heick (flute, piccolo, clarinet, alto saxophone); Mark Thrasher (clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, baritone saxophone); Rick Heckman (clarinet, oboe, tenor saxophone); Alexandra Knoll (oboe); Jon Owens, Bud Burridge, Donald Downs (trumpet); Adam Krauthamer, David Peel, Theresa MacDonnell (French horn); John Allred (trombone, bass trombone); Keith O'Quinn (trombone); Steve Marzullo, Andy Einhorn, Brian Hertz (piano); Gene Lewin, Sean McDaniel (drums); Pablo Rieppi (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Todd Whitelock.
Liner Note Author: Audra McDonald.
Recording information: Avatar Studios, New York, NY (02/2013-03/2013).
Photographer: Autumn de Wilde.
A classically trained soprano with a voice that can seemingly do anything, Audra McDonald was the most important new voice to hit musical theater in the 1990s, and while her work on stage, in films, and on television is at the center of her career, she has also found time to record an album here or there, and this one, her fifth solo studio release, and her first in some seven years, pretty much follows the template of the earlier ones, with a couple of songs from Stephen Sondheim ("The Glamorous Life" from A Little Night Music in the case here) and Rodgers & Hammerstein ("Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music), but most importantly, she continues to feature new and younger composers on her albums, and on Go Back Home, these newer pieces are the most striking, perhaps because they are the least familiar. The opener and title track, "Go Back Home" from The Scottsboro Boys, written by John Kander and Fred Ebb, is a case in point. McDonald gives the song the exact amount of yearning and nuance, and she does the same to "First You Dream," another piece from Kander and Ebb, this one from Steel Pier. "Migratory V," from Saturn Returns, written by Adam Guettel, is another ethereal gem here. She also does versions of songs drawn from literary sources, two of which, "Some Days," drawn from a piece of writing by James Baldwin and set to music by Steve Marzullo, and "Tavern," based on a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay and given music by Will Reynolds, are included here. McDonald's voice astounds and seduces throughout Go Back Home, which is what we've come to expect from this great singer and interpreter. Hopefully we won't have to wait another seven years for her next solo outing. ~ Steve Leggett