Yes, she's been performing for years without making her own CD, but the title is actually picked up from one of the lyrics. She always wanted to do a recording, to quote one of the song titles, "Sooner or Later." That slow-sizzling seductive sass, from the film Dick Tracy, is one of two neatly done choices from Stephen Sondheim, the other being the contrastingly tender "Take Me to the World" (from the score for the TV production, Evening Primrose).
Theatrical singer Naz Edwards is at her best with bittersweet lyrics that reflect on the passage of time. Ed Kleban's "The Next Best Thing to Love" (A Class Act) and Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich's sadder-but-wiser "Now That I Know" are especially well done. Clear-eyed reflection that has a tear threateningly and stubbornly nearby suits her talents well.
She also successfully takes on the heavier lamenting for a lost son and life's other no-punches-pulled litany of regrets in William Finn's "The Music Still Plays On." These all bring out a survivor's instincts, as does the more cut-to-the-chase declaration of the CD's closer, "I'll Be Here Tomorrow" from Jerry Herman's The Grand Tour. This is a short (less than a minute and a half) understated finale. Rather than wave the flag and sound the trumpets, Naz sings with a calmer restrained confidence that makes a point without fanfare, ending with the piano echoing something thought-provoking to linger in the air instead: it's the melody of the first song, "Since You Stayed Here" from Off-Broadway's Brownstone by Josh Rubins and Peter Larson.
The accompaniment throughout is just piano on all 15 tracks and player-arranger Jerry Depuit is skillful, sensitive and pleasingly prominent, matching the singer strength for strength. Even so, perhaps Naz's strong belt would have worked better on some of the brasher sections if there'd been other instruments; her brassy sound could use some brass in there. It can sound harsh at times, especially with Peter Allen's "Don't Wish Too Hard" coming off as too screamy a rant. She's joined by Wayne Bryan for a chipper yet also maybe too strident duet on the sarcastic Rodgers & Hart classic "I Wish I Were in Love Again."
The more nuanced work with thoughtful phrasing is so involving and touching that it makes the few more perfunctory renditions frustrating. "I'm the Girl" (James Shelton) is especially well realized, perhaps the most perfect track on an album that has much to recommend it and make you wish the waiting hadn't taken years, because it would be great to have a few albums by this artist. Hopefully, we won't have to wait years for the next one.
- Rob Lester From www.talkingbroadway.com.