June 2002

Nancy Monroe
The Love Within
MJA Records

I know next to nothing about New Yorker Nancy Monroe, but am willing to bet that she cut her teeth in musical theater. A bonafide belter in the Ethel Merman mold, Monroe has a Broadway diva's fondness for bold moves and broad gestures. Unfortunately, as evident throughout her latest outing, The Love Within, such brazenness often veers toward shrillness. Yet, like the adorably irritating Kristin Chenoweth, Monroe sure knows how to hit 'em out of the park. Her rollicking "I've Never Been in Love Before" is like a great big bear hug, "Make Me Rainbows" is appropriately bright and splashy and she slows to a comfortable medium tempo for the cunning "Anyone Can Play." Tender ballads are, however, quite another matter. "Alone Together" is performed like a ballpark anthem rather than an intimate pas de deux and the wistful "Summer Me, Winter Me" is delivered with a bang instead of a whisper. Still, it's obvious that Monroe has buckets of talent. All she needs is to learn that such enormous ability is sometimes best meted out by the spoonful.

Originally published in June 2002
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