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86 of 93 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Let's cut to the chase--it's hard to have an objective opinion of the new cast album of "Once." As is increasingly the trend for Broadway shows, "Once" is based on a movie, and a very unusual movie at that. The movie was a delicate, wispy story of two musicians meeting, transforming each other's lives and, in a bittersweet ending, moving on to chase their respective destinies. The "love, not-love" story was powerful because it was so restrained; as their time together was so brief it felt like an extended first date, with all the reservations, hopes, and potentialities involved. As it turns out, the story had extra poignancy in that it mirrored the real-life experiences of the principal actors, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, who briefly became a couple and then similarly moved on. "Once" was a tiny movie made for almost nothing, but it has had an outsized impact on everyone I know who saw it.

The obvious question is it appropriate to bring this to *Broadway*? Would a full-blown production ruin the essence of the story, or be a tonic in today's era of over-the-top offerings? Unthinkable or a blessing?

I'll leave off reviewing the show here, and focus on the recording at hand. I'll begin by saying that your enjoyment of the cast album of "Once" will be colored by a whole slew of external factors. The original movie soundtrack was done in indy-rock, pseudo-celtic style. Those drawn to those musical stylings, and the unique vocals of Hansard and Irglová, might very well dismiss the new cast recording as cover album by singers who just don't get it. For those who have not heard the soundtrack, or like more of a pop sound, this won't be an issue and the power of the songs will come shining through. For what it's worth, I love the soundtrack, but Hansard's raw, quasi-angry sound as he belts the power anthems makes them a bit wearying after repeated hearings. Hansard's cast album counterpart Steve Kazee can still belt it, just in a different vocal style.

The songs themselves are, as they were in the movie, fantastic. What's curious is that there are no real "book numbers" in the show, and yet they're all book numbers. That was another paradox in the movie... since the story is about song-writing musicians, there are countless opportunities for them to unselfconsciously insert songs into the story: "Hey could you help me with a lyric here?" "I want to run through a new piece before I perform it, care to listen?" Recording sessions and performances happen onstage. But the songs capture the character's feelings, fears and hopes and move the story forward. "Falling Slowly" is again breathtaking, capturing the tentative, budding feelings between the principals. "If You Want Me" is a powerful ballad of a woman trapped in a complicated relationship that should have universal appeal. "When Your Mind's Made Up" remains a powerful angst-ridden cry against a doomed relationship. Hansard and Irglová wrote two new songs that fit well with the others: "Abandoned in Brandon" and "Ej Pada Pada Rosicka," both given to secondary characters that bulk up the story, and more importantly, strengthen the mood. All in all, I have to say that while the score wasn't written for the stage originally, it *fits* the stage magnificently--far better than many new shows and far better than it should.

The cast performers are great. Cristin Milioti and Steve Kazee obviously don't bring the authenticity of Hansard and Irglová as the original (and real-life) couple, but they succeed brilliantly in this new medium and totally own the songs. Milioti has a velvety sound that can still hit like a hammer when needed. Kazee's voice is less steely than Hansard's but carries through with all the same emotion. The stage musicians follow the trend of recent performances of "Sweeney Todd," "Company," among others in that they stay onstage throughout and play their own instruments. Captured on disc, they sound fantastic, easily mastering the different styles of music and playing with cohesive power. In short, they sound like a real band. I have to say the cast album is more... "polished" than the soundtrack. Some will scream that makes it less authentic, but it also creates a richer listening experience.

I won't say the new cast recording is better than the soundtrack--they're very different as befits two different mediums. But I will say the new recording is fantastic. Give it a listen.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Format: MP3 Music
Let's cut to the chase--it's hard to have an objective opinion of the new cast album of "Once." As is increasingly the trend for Broadway shows, "Once" is based on a movie, and a very unusual movie at that. The movie was a delicate, wispy story of two musicians meeting, transforming each other's lives and, in a bittersweet ending, moving on to chase their respective destinies. The "love, not-love" story was powerful because it was so restrained; as their time together was so brief it felt like an extended first date, with all the reservations, hopes, and potentialities involved. As it turns out, the story had extra poignancy in that it mirrored the real-life experiences of the principal actors, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, who briefly became a couple and then similarly moved on. "Once" was a tiny movie made for almost nothing, but it has had an outsized impact on everyone I know who saw it.

The obvious question is it appropriate to bring this to *Broadway*? Would a full-blown production ruin the essence of the story, or be a tonic in today's era of over-the-top offerings? Unthinkable or a blessing?

I'll leave off reviewing the show here, and focus on the recording at hand. I'll begin by saying that your enjoyment of the cast album of "Once" will be colored by a whole slew of external factors. The original movie soundtrack was done in indy-rock, pseudo-celtic style. Those drawn to those musical stylings, and the unique vocals of Hansard and Irglová, might very well dismiss the new cast recording as cover album by singers who just don't get it. For those who have not heard the soundtrack, or like more of a pop sound, this won't be an issue and the power of the songs will come shining through. For what it's worth, I love the soundtrack, but Hansard's raw, quasi-angry sound as he belts the power anthems makes them a bit wearying after repeated hearings. Hansard's cast album counterpart Steve Kazee can still belt it, just in a different vocal style.

The songs themselves are, as they were in the movie, fantastic. What's curious is that there are no real "book numbers" in the show, and yet they're all book numbers. That was another paradox in the movie... since the story is about song-writing musicians, there are countless opportunities for them to unselfconsciously insert songs into the story: "Hey could you help me with a lyric here?" "I want to run through a new piece before I perform it, care to listen?" Recording sessions and performances happen onstage. But the songs capture the character's feelings, fears and hopes and move the story forward. "Falling Slowly" is again breathtaking, capturing the tentative, budding feelings between the principals. "If You Want Me" is a powerful ballad of a woman trapped in a complicated relationship that should have universal appeal. "When Your Mind's Made Up" remains a powerful angst-ridden cry against a doomed relationship. Hansard and Irglová wrote two new songs that fit well with the others: "Abandoned in Brandon" and "Ej Pada Pada Rosicka," both given to secondary characters that bulk up the story, and more importantly, strengthen the mood. All in all, I have to say that while the score wasn't written for the stage originally, it *fits* the stage magnificently--far better than many new shows and far better than it should.

The cast performers are great. Cristin Milioti and Steve Kazee obviously don't bring the authenticity of Hansard and Irglová as the original (and real-life) couple, but they succeed brilliantly in this new medium and totally own the songs. Milioti has a velvety sound that can still hit like a hammer when needed. Kazee's voice is less steely than Hansard's but carries through with all the same emotion. The stage musicians follow the trend of recent performances of "Sweeney Todd," "Company," among others in that they stay onstage throughout and play their own instruments. Captured on disc, they sound fantastic, easily mastering the different styles of music and playing with cohesive power. In short, they sound like a real band. I have to say the cast album is more... "polished" than the soundtrack. Some will scream that makes it less authentic, but it also creates a richer listening experience.

I won't say the new cast recording is better than the soundtrack--they're very different as befits two different mediums. But I will say the new recording is fantastic. Give it a listen.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
It's a bit risky to adapt a story behind an indie small budget film to the Broadway stage. But when your listening to such gorgeous melodies sung by actors with beautiful voices perfect for musicals and this score, then something magical happens. The music is wonderful and I hope I will be able to experience this on the stage. In the meantime, the recording will have to suffice.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
The movie "Once" and the accompanying songs are sacred ground for me. I have an emotional attachment to both that is a little difficult for me to explain. There is an openness and honesty to the songs that speaks to me. There's an incredible emotional fearlessness to The Frames/The Swell Season tunes that make up the soundtrack that's altogether rare. So, on to the Broadway cast album. It's different in the fact that every single cast member is a musician and all perform on stage and in this album. If you watch the videos circulated by the musical on YouTube, recording the album was a shared communal experience with the entire cast gathering in the studio to lay down the tracks just as they perform them each night on stage. There is a keen awareness that they are dealing with a devoted fan base. They knew they couldn't just come off sounding like a "Once Tribute Band" but nor could they wonder off on some wild tangent. The album doesn't have the street busker sound to it but that's to be expected, I think. Kazee outshines Milioti ever so slightly but if you take into account, the fact she has no formal musical training, she's more than equal to the task. She was good enough to be included in a solo album that Glen Hansard recorded while living in New York and working with the cast. Milioti professed to being nervous when playing Marketa Irglova's songs back for her but found her to be a kind and nurturing presence. It's a real testament to Kazee and Milioti that they can take material that means so much to so many and make it their own.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
All too rarely do I come to a Broadway show with minimal expectations and come away feeling like I experienced something quite magical. Like many others, I saw the minor 2006 indie film upon which this musical was based and liked it. I certainly liked it enough to buy the accompanying soundtrack CD because of that soaring love song the two principals, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, performed in the piano shop, "Falling Slowly". It was a lovely scene in a small movie that promptly went into the inner recesses of my fading memory bank. Now six years later comes the Broadway production, which beautifully expands on the film's insular focus on the couple to include a dozen talented musician/actors to provide the core love story much-needed dimension in order to fill the stage for he audience. The same approach also adds dimension to the 2012 original cast recording which thanks to producers Steve Epstein and Martin Lowe, does an excellent job of capturing the liveliness of the show's Dublin pub setting as well as the melancholic attraction between the mismatched, unnamed pair.

Eight of the thirteen songs from the film have been retained, and Lowe's orchestrations build on Hansard's and Irglová's songs with both inventive spirit and becalming restraint. The story is basically the same as the movie - a spunky Czech émigré takes notice of a reticent Irish street musician where she becomes entranced by the passion of his talent. His character's self-penned songs - all written by Hansard and Irglová - reflect the still-broken heart he has over a break-up with a girl who had moved to New York, a circumstance that the girl can relate to as she is a lonely young mother unsure whether she will go back to her husband back in Prague. Their relationship evolves into something deeper and not altogether unexpected. At the same time, it becomes clear that the music they create is what will always bond them regardless of where they go. The centerpiece of the recording is, of course, the Oscar-winning "Falling Slowly", performed first as the semi-spontaneous duet it was in the film version and then reprised at the end to sum up the story with genuine poignancy. Steve Kazee plays the pained street musician/vacuum cleaner repairman. Onstage, he was a revelation as Guy, and he captures the troubadour portion of his performance here with unrelenting passion and power.

As a Kentuckian, Kazee doesn't have Hansard's hangdog brogue or bar-band edge, but he fluently conveys the pain inherent in the now-familiar songs with a purer sense of conviction in a more varied set of arrangements. He manages to lend quiet introspection to "Gold", while his intensely personal versions of "Leave" and "When Your Mind's Made Up" are particularly heartbreaking. More powerfully than Irglová, Cristin Milioti sings in a crystalline Björk-like voice that unexpectedly soars on her spotlight solo numbers, "If You Want Me" and "The Hill". At the same time, she harmonizes quite nicely with Kazee. The additional songs elevate the energy level by bridging key scenes. The harmonies in "Moon" are great and really evoke the pub setting with clarity, as does "Abandoned in Bandon", a minute-long Irish drinking song performed by some of the incidental characters. To highlight the Girl's immediate family, there is even a traditional Czech number, "Ej Pada Pada Rosicka", which adds some much-needed ethnic zest to a score that otherwise relishes its Gaelic spirit. As a whole, the recording is incredibly charming and envelopes the listener like an old friend. It's a true beauty.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2012
Format: Audio CD
I saw this production on Broadway last week and purchased the cast recording immediately afterwards. I really enjoyed the show and having seen the film, I had no idea how they would adapt the film for the stage. What they did was really breathtaking and beautiful. The score is quite beautiful as well but after a couple of listens, the songs start to get a bit boring and angsty for me. They start to sound the same and after a couple of listens, I probably won't be listening to this for a while. If I do, I think I'd rather listen to the film soundtrack. The performances on this cast recording are great, but the voices are not as authentic as the ones in the movie. Its almost like you're listening to musical theatre performers trying to cover up their vibrato...which Steve Kazee is a bit.

It's worth a listen for sure and there are some songs not in the movie that are worth hearing. I'd say see the show, but stick with the film soundtrack.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I purchased this cd after seeing the show. I loved the show but did not like the cd at all. I found the songs for the most part rather shrill. I also was struck by the poor engineering. The volume seemed to oscillate, and the cd at times sounded high pitched.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Saw the show and LOVED it so bought this CD. The CD does not disappoint. It brings back the memories of the show.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2012
Format: MP3 Music
I saw this Musical on Broadway and it was great! Steve Kazee's singing was amazing. When I listen to the CD, I relive the experience of the show. If you didn't see it in person, you might not appreciate this music.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Finally, a show on Broadway that beautifully reminds us of what theatre can and should be! Truly must been seen to be believed. True talent on Broadway...what a concept! Most refreshing, indeed.
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