Reviewer: Holly Spanner
Currently lighting up the Broadway stage as Princess Jasmine in Disney’s Aladdin, A Leap in the Dark is the debut solo album from actress Arielle Jacobs, recorded live at 54 Below. Throughout the album, Jacobs shares her ups and downs of making it in the industry, in this autobiographical one-woman show.
I’ll be safe and wanted
Fin’lly home where I belong
The album begins quite fittingly with Journey to the Past from Disney’s Anastasia, before conversation moves to the isolation endured from being bullied at school, when all the other students were members of the Triple-A club; “All Against Arielle”. Sarah McLachlan’s Angel is a fitting choice here, sung sensitively with a beautiful arrangement. In fact, all throughout the album, the songs choices match her narrative well, and have mostly been selected from shows that she has performed in, including In the Heights, Wicked, Aladdin, High School Musical as well as Rent, Into the Woods and Violet.
This album comes across as a very personal collection of songs, each one carefully chosen. She connects with these songs, and she’s learnt from the characters she’s played. A lot of the conversation is interesting on the first playthrough, but inevitably gets skipped on repeat listens. That said, the talking is well thought-out and flows easily for the listener. She explains how voices like Celine Dion, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey helped her find her place, and who needs middle school problems when you’re a Razzle Dazzle kid?!
On My Way is the perfect pick-me-up; it’s energetic and optimistic, likewise in Almost There from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, her excitement is palpable as it oozes with every note; she’s on the cusp of something good.
The narrative is at times, somewhat clichéd. The main theme resonates with that of overcoming adversity and is clearly scripted, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing for an audio recording. On the flip side, everything fits neatly into place. After all, why shouldn’t your debut album be as polished as possible?
Overall, A Leap in the Dark has a great selection of songs; with choices that stand out for not having been previously ‘overdone’. There is a nice balance of tempo and her narrative, although scripted, is insightful. Jacobs’ vocals are effortless and silky smooth, and with occasional guests, including Nicholas Christopher, Javier Colon and Heath Saunders, this is very much an album about the journey.
And her message? Sometimes you’ve just got to take a chance; you only regret the things you don’t do, right?
A Leap in the Dark is available to purchase or download from Broadway Records.