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Ron Bohmer - Another Life

Ron Bohmer - Another LifeRon Bohmer, who played Alex in Aspects of Love, Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard, the title role in Phantom of the Opera, Enjolras in Les Miserables and Percy in Scarlet Pimpernel (SP3) has just released his second album, Another Life. His first album, Everyman, was typical 'Broadway-performer-releasing-a-CD,' fare, consisting primarily of numbers from the Broadway stage, intermixed with a few of his own compositions. On Another Life, Ron reverses the ratio, performing 10 songs he wrote (sometimes with a collaborator), one song by David Chase, and one song from The Scarlet Pimpernel. His songs are of a 'pop/folk/country' fusion style in the Kenny Loggins vein. His lyrics, while not masterpieces, are definitely better than 90% of what is played on the radio today. The good news is that there are some good songs on the CD. The bad news is that they are not well represented by the production of the album. In his interview on Talkin' Broadway, Ron mentioned that he recorded the album during two live concerts. Unfortunately, Another Life suffers from the pitfalls and problems of a live recording while ignoring the benefits, largely through an attempt to make it a hybrid live/studio album.

Another Life tries too hard to be a studio recording. Additional instrumental tracks were added in the studio and do not quite match those recorded live, since no matter how you mix them, live instrumental tracks always sound muddier than studio. The only benefit of doing a live recording (other than to save money) is that it provides a permanent record of something transitory; an actual performance, warts and all. Another Life does not take advantage of this, and tries to wipe out most audience and performer reactions. As a result, what is left is highly distracting: a few "thank you's" and instrumentalist recognitions on his part, and a few seconds of similar sounding audience reaction after each number. The one instance where he does talk to the audience is incredibly jarring, as it comes out of nowhere and has nothing to do with the song or the moment. I wish that he had included more of his patter and song set-ups, as they would have not only shown off more of his personality, but would have given the album a bit more variation in energy and style.

This would have been especially useful in the beginning of the album, since the first four songs suffer from having a similar drive and feel, and thus get monotonous. For me, the album did not start until the fifth track, the haunting "Into Thin Air," which was based on a radio contact with a doomed Everest attempt. From that point on, the album picks up and starts showing some variation with "Sandra Is," a humorous song about slightly obsessed love, and "She Was There" from The Scarlet Pimpernel; the number that best showcases Ron's voice. Another Life ends with its strongest number, "A Lifetime of Hello," an infectious song that perhaps should have opened the album, as it would have gotten the listener more actively involved from the start.

Overall, it's not a bad album, but a frustrating one in that it could have been improved by either being fully recorded in a studio setting, or by better capturing the experience of being at one of his shows. The album benefits by repeated listenings, or by either starting at track 5 or pressing 'random' on your CD player the first time around.

For more information on Ron, visit his website at http://www.RonBohmer.com/


-- Jonathan Frank


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