VERSIONS, VOL 3: “Kiss the Air” by Scott Alan
While I could go on and on about the wonderful intricacies of a Kerrigan-Lowdermilk’s music, I could just as easily launch into a whole verbal thesis on a Scott Alan piece. For now, I’ll spare you the book report and simply put it this way: his music has the ability to melt this cold, dead aspiring theater critic’s heart. Okay, perhaps I went a little heavy on the hyperbole there – but hyperbolic or not, this much is true: I sure do love me some Scott Alan.
Oftentimes, what makes a great musical theatre song is its ability to tell a story without necessarily letting the audience in on the whole story, instead letting the song speak for itself. Like Kerrigan-Lowdermilk and many of his other contemporaries, much of Alan’s oeuvre displays a huge breadth of emotion — from the euphoric, belt-jumping “I’m a Star” to the whimsical and child-like “Never Neverland” to the bittersweet goodbyes of “Home” and “Now” – what gives a Scott Alan song its own unique signature is the true emotion behind it in whatever given moment.
And never are these emotions more evident than in performance – preferably by a pair of two vocal powerhouses, both of whom I hold in equally high esteem.
By now you’re all probably well-aware of my unabashed love for all things Caissie Levy, as previously documented in the inaugural installment of Versions here on the NMT Blog. And it should be no surprise, considering that everything the Canadian native seems to touch (or rather, sings) turns to gold. I’m not sure if it sounds strange to profess one’s love for a person’s vibrato, but that is exactly how I feel about Ms. Levy’s voice. Having seen her star turn as Sheila in Hair, I can more than safely say that to hear her sing is to have a religious experience.
If you’ve yet to be convinced, then let me submit for your approval, dear readers, Exhibit A: Ms. Levy’s rendition of “Kiss the Air.”
The song is told from the perspective of a person saying goodbye to a past lover who has moved on. It’s a concept that can be found in almost every love song that has ever been written – yet, it is something that anyone can relate to.
Just as emotionally moving is this version of the song, as performed by another vocal powerhouse Natalie Weiss:
It starts out much quieter, with Alan gently accompanying on piano in the background, slow and measured. Weiss’ performance too, is measured here; despite being in a seated position, it sounded more akin to a girl standing alone under a single spotlight, laying bare her soul for all to see. Whether this lends itself to the song or vice versa is no matter, because the result is stunning – especially at points when the pulsing piano arrangement pauses.