Kristin Chenoweth is probably best-known for originating the role of Glinda in the global phenomenon Wicked opposite Idina Menzel. Over the years she’s popped up in a number of films and TV shows including Four Christmases, Rio 2 and Glee. As a singer she released her debut album in 2001 and in 2011 she flirted with Country pop on her fourth album Lessons Learned. Her last album, The Art of Elegance, was released in 2016 and saw Chenoweth embracing a pop-jazz sound. Three years on from that, the star has recorded a collection of covers titled For The Girls.
For this album, Chenoweth has selected songs that have inspired her from a variety of female singers. The album opens with The Way We Were, originally recorded by Barbra Streisand, and it’s a nice reintroduction to Chenoweth’s distinctive and powerful voice. She has a really warm tone with her vibrato shining frequently. It’s not a million miles away from the original version so Streisand fans should be fairly happy with the interpretation.
Second track You Don’t Own Me sees Chenoweth enlisting the help of Ariana Grande. Much like the album’s first track, the song is perfectly listenable but it doesn’t really add to the original. Grande has clearly been included because she’s got star power at the moment but she’s not a natural companion for Chenoweth’s more theatrical voice. The further you get into the album, the stronger the feeling becomes that this is a perfectly enjoyable album but it lacks the punch you need to make a covers record truly great.
I Will Always Love You features Dolly Parton, who of course wrote the song, but it plays out more like fan service from Chenoweth to Parton, particularly in the spoken word part. With two such incredibly powerful and magnetic women joining forces, you expect something that’s going to really impress. Instead this duet is just ‘nice’ as opposed to truly thrilling. This problem plagues much of the album with Chenoweth delivering solid vocals but the songs sounding OK rather than amazing.
On songs such as When I Fall in Love Chenoweth uses her Broadway credentials to draw you in but there’s nothing significantly different from the countless other versions already out there. Sadly the same is true with her cover of Patsy Cline’s Crazy and the Eagles’ Desperado (which was covered by Linda Ronstadt). The vocals are solid but the songs just lack that impact that make you want to listen to them again and again.
Perhaps the best moment comes on the cover of Peggy Lee’s I’m a Woman, which features Jennifer Hudson and Reba McEntire. The reason it works is because Chenoweth has brought together three women who wouldn’t normally sing together, and that makes it something a little bit special. All three voices are different but it just works.
For The Girls is the kind of covers album that people dial in when they need to get something out in time for Christmas. Chenoweth is better than this and her talent is capable of so much more. It’s not a bad album but it’s not going to leave much of a lasting impression and that’s the big problem. For the Girls is a decent listen but you’ll forget it when something better comes along.
Track list: 1. The Way We Were 2. You Don’t Own Me (feat Ariana Grande) 3. It Doesn’t Matter Anymore 4. I Will Always Love You (with Dolly Parton) 5. What a Diff’rence a Day Makes 6. When I Fall in Love 7. Crazy 8. The Man That Got Away 9. I’m a Woman (feat Jennifer Hudson and Reba McEntire) 10. Will You Love Me Tomorrow 11. I Wanna Be Around 12. Desperado Record label: Concord Records Release date: 25th October 2019 Buy For The Girls