Ghostlight Records has announced the release of How We React and How We Recover, the new album from three-time Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown. His first solo recording in over a decade is a politically-charged, far-reaching rumination on love, family and music. The album will be available in digital and streaming formats on Friday, June 29, with a physical CD planned for later this year. The release will coincide with New York City Center’s Encores! Off-Center production of Brown’s landmark New York debut show Songs for a New World, which runs from June 27-30. For more information on the album, please visit www.ghostlightrecords.com/jason-robert-brown-how-we-react-and-how-we-recover.html
How We React and How We Recover – partly a response to our fraught political climate, part portrait of an evolving contemporary artist – is Brown’s definitive interpretations of his own compositions, pregnant with emotion, capacious musical energy and symphonic sweep. “I grew up on Billy Joel and Joni Mitchell, but also Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein,” reflects Brown. “All those influences sit within the work. This album has a specific emotional palette and musical aesthetic that rests between rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, folk, gospel and Broadway.”
The opening song, “Hope,” written the morning after the fateful 2016 U.S. Presidential election, was meant to set the tone for the record. “It’s about having hope when you have no reason to be hopeful, trying to capture the positive energy of life in bad times. I still have a tough time performing it, it’s a very direct expression of a very difficult emotional moment.” Ultimately the album is about, as the song “Hope” itself says, being a force of good “in spite of everything ridiculous and sad.”
“The Sandy Hook school shooting just broke me,” Brown continues. “My daughter was the same age as those kids and it mobilized me to do something, anything I could about the scourge of guns in this country. Ultimately, I wrote ‘A Song About Your Gun.’ I had to express my anger, not just for the killing of the innocent people, but the fetishization of this weapon. This object has been placed on a pedestal to become a symbol of who we are supposed to be as a country. I started writing this song to deal with that rage and now it’s become my primary social issue.”
“All Things in Time” – the song which provides the album its title – closes many of Brown’s concerts. With a quiet and clear-eyed optimism, the song says, “we can’t predict what comes to pass, all we control is how we react and how we recover.” “That line really encapsulates both the album and what it’s like to live in this crazy time,” Brown explains. “Let’s just hang in there together. It doesn’t matter if I really believe it, what matters is that I must believe it.”
Other album highlights include “Fifty Years Long,” Jason’s lyrical song originally written for a long-married couple he didn’t know, but which ended up exploring not only his own marriage, but that of his parents and the very nature of relationships, and how they are affected by community, luck and hard work. “Melinda,” infused with the chaos and energy of big band Latin rhythm, is about a rising salsa musician set in the melting pot of 1970s New York City.
“Hallowed Ground” – an infectiously percussive chamber pop song – was inspired by his daughter’s visit to the same performing arts camp Brown attended in his formative years, and the emotions from witnessing her budding musical talent. “Being a father is the thing I had to do to keep being a writer,” he reflects. “There were things I didn’t know how to feel, emotions I never knew existed, or how to express them. I’ve already said all there was to say about myself. It’s very different when you are responsible for other people and every facet of their lives.”
The Grammy Award-nominated vocalist Kate McGarry lends her voice to the bittersweet bossa nova-inspired “One More Thing Than I Can Handle.” Brown recalled, “I was dazzled by her technical facility and unbelievable musicality, but she really connects with the lyrics too. I am honored that she’s part of the album. She’s a special artist.”
“Wait ‘Til You See What’s Next” – the album’s ebullient closing track – was originally written as the finale of the Broadway musical Prince of Broadway, which honors Brown’s mentor, the lauded director Hal Prince. Brown provided arrangements, orchestrations, music supervision, and co-produced the cast album for Ghostlight Records. “As an optimist, Hal genuinely believes good things are going to happen,” says Brown. “His entire life and career are based on not the assumption, but the literal knowledge, that it’s all going to work out exactly the way you want it to. He’s always moving forward with positivity and belief in the future. This song was written to be in Hal’s voice, but by singing it on the album, I started to find that quality in myself. The world is rough right now, but wait until you see what’s next. Let’s celebrate what’s coming up.”
How We React and How We Recover is produced by Jeffrey Lesser and Jason Robert Brown. Stacey Mindich and Kurt Deutsch serve as executive producers.
Brown also is represented on Ghostlight Records with his debut solo album – Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes – in addition to The Last Five Years (2002 Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording, 2013 Revival Off-Broadway Cast Recording, and 2015 Motion Picture Soundtrack), 13: The Musical (Original Broadway Cast Album, Original West End Cast Recording) and The Bridges of Madison County (Original Broadway Cast Recording).
Jason Robert Brown is a composer, lyricist, conductor, arranger, orchestrator, director and performer best known for his dazzling scores to several of the most renowned musicals of his generation. The New York Times refers to Jason as “a leading member of a new generation of composers who embody high hopes for the American musical.” Jason’s score for The Bridges of Madison County, a musical adapted with Marsha Norman from the bestselling novel, directed by Bartlett Sher and starring Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale, received two Tony Awards (for Best Score and Orchestrations). A film version of his epochal Off-Broadway musical The Last Five Years was released in 2015, starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan and directed by Richard LaGravenese. His major musicals as composer and lyricist include: “13”, written with Robert Horn and Dan Elish, which began its life in Los Angeles in 2007 and opened on Broadway in 2008 (and was subsequently directed by the composer for its West End premiere in 2012); The Last Five Years, which was cited as one of Time Magazine’s 10 Best of 2001 and won Drama Desk Awards for Best Music and Best Lyrics; Parade, written with Alfred Uhry and directed by Harold Prince, which premiered at Lincoln Center Theatre in 1998, and subsequently won both the Drama Desk and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards for Best New Musical, as well as garnering Jason the Tony Award for Original Score; Honeymoon In Vegas, based on Andrew Bergman’s film, which opened on Broadway in 2015 following a triumphant production at Paper Mill Playhouse; and Songs for a New World, a theatrical song cycle directed by Daisy Prince, which played Off-Broadway in 1995, and has since been seen in hundreds of productions around the world. Parade was also the subject of a major revival directed by Rob Ashford, first at London’s Donmar Warehouse and then at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Future projects include a new chamber musical created with Daisy Prince and Jonathan Marc Sherman called The Connector, an untitled new piece created with Kenneth Lin and Moisés Kaufman, and a new musical with Billy Crystal. Jason’s songs, including the cabaret standard “Stars and the Moon,” have been performed and recorded by Audra McDonald, Billy Porter, Betty Buckley, Karen Akers, Renée Fleming, Philip Quast, Jon Hendricks and many others. As a soloist or with his band The Caucasian Rhythm Kings, Jason has performed sold-out concerts around the world. www.jasonrobertbrown.com.
4. Fifty Years Long
5. Hallowed Ground
6. One More Thing Than I Can Handle (featuring Kate McGarry)
7. All Things in Time
8. A Song About Your Gun
9. Everybody Knows
10. The Hardest Hill
11. Caravan of Angels
12. Wait ‘Til You See What’s Next
Ghostlight Records has become the leading independent force in Original Broadway Cast Recordings – building a library of over 150 records in the last 17 years, featuring some of the most successful Broadway musicals and solo albums by Broadway’s brightest stars. Founded by Grammy Award winner Kurt Deutsch, Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight has won Grammy Awards for The Book of Mormon, In the Heights and Beautiful – The Carole King Musical. Other notable releases include cast recordings for the 2018 Tony winner The Band’s Visit, 2017 Tony nominee Falsettos, 2016 Tony nominees Bright Star and She Loves Me, as well as Disney’s Newsies. The label has also released solo albums from Patti LuPone, Billy Porter, Sutton Foster, Adam Pascal, Lea DeLaria, Kelli O’Hara, Ben Vereen, Christine Ebersole and more. The label continues to support the new generation of musical theatre composers with their extensive relationships with David Yazbek, Michael John LaChiusa and Michael Friedman, as well as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt, Pasek & Paul, Joe Iconis, Ryan Scott Oliver, Shaina Taub, Dave Malloy, Kerrigan & Lowdermilk and Adam Gwon. Sh-K-Boom Entertainment is a producer of the acclaimed film version of The Last Five Years, written and directed by Richard LaGravenese and starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. The label recently became part of the new Arts Music division at Warner Music Group.