(Jeremy Schonfeld and Lauren Kennedy singing
"I Was Meant For You" from 37 Notebooks)
The first musical theatre writer I thought I would write about in the new year is actually a writer I've been meaning to talk about for a while now. Jeremy Schonfeld has been on the musical theatre scene for a while, performing his concept album, Drift, which had a production at NYMF, as well as writing songs for and acting in the musical film Clear Blue Tuesday. He's also composed music for the ATrainPlays, which I love, and he wrote the music for a CD titled 37 Notebooks, which features songs performed by Broadway stars like Shoshana Bean and Tracie Thoms.
Last November, I was contacted about reviewing Jeremy's latest CD, Iron & Coal, and it's taken me a lot longer than I expected to spend the time I wanted to on it. But in light of the new year, I finally found a quiet moment to really listen to this rock/orchestral album and was surprised to find resonant themes in the face of a new beginning. The lyrics stood out most to me-- cries for redemption, introspective looks into identity, ruminations on mortality and spirituality. It was intensely personal and intimate while still being incredibly melodic and cohesively contained. There's depth to every song, and it's hard not to listen to the album and not recognize the spiritual journey the characters embark on as they search inside themselves to find meaning.
And that was what I thought before I even heard the personal story behind the album, which was inspired by Jeremy's family and growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust:
You can stream the entire album at Jeremy's website here. I highly recommend taking the time to really enjoy the music and lyrics of this extraordinary story and listen to the voices of human beings finding themselves under the weight of human tragedy and experience.