JASON ROBERT BROWN
"Wearing Someone Else's Clothes"
Appropriately, for a man in the midst of a career change, Jason Robert Brown's first solo CD, "Wearing Someone Else's Clothes," is about the discomfort brought on by, well, wearing someone else's clothes. Having traded in -- temporarily, at least -- the sequins and spangles of Broadway, where he first found success (most notably as the composer of the 1999 Tony-winning musical "Parade"), Brown is at a sartorial crossroads of sorts. The 35-year-old is one of the Great White Way's great white hopes, but he knows he's up against plenty, namely a genre dominated by aging traditions and equally aging practitioners.
Brown's solution? To cobble together a band, pack up the car and peel out of Shubert Alley, a move that, it turns out, had a liberating effect on both the composer and his canon. Songs like the title track, a pop ditty that revels in the joys of painting your bathroom eggshell blue, are about as far from the broad strokes of Broadway as you can get, but the intimacy never feels forced or solipsistic. And few know their way around a novelty tune like this guy, whose "I Could Be in Love With Someone Like You" is a hilarious paean to the pleasures of Irish girls. But as this promising debut demonstrates, Brown also has a knack for the serious stuff, especially the special hell that is the on-again, off-again relationship -- whether with one's brother, Broadway or a bonnie lass.
-- Scott Vogel
Appearing through Sunday at Blues Alley.