On this trip, all could be lost
To live free, it is worth the cost
Keep your heart strong and be brave
Keep your watch and we will be safe!
There is an evil sailing the waters
Innocent people dying each day
Murderous pirates hold them for ransom
Stealing our ships and demanding we pay
How can we conscience sitting in silence
Paying their bribes and demands?
I say we fight them, no more blood money
Draining our courage and staining our hands!
Oh think about the road you’re on
If it leads where you belong
You will find the truth on your way
Never was a danger born
That could change the right to wrong
What’s in your heart don’t ever betray
Think about your road
Everywhere, there is always someone who is standing beside you
Always there, living on forever in the change that’s inside you
I can hear the call of the voices that rang out long before and
All they’ve won will never be undone
And one day soon a change will come!
(From various songs on An American Victory)
Isn’t there just something magnetic
(there goes my mathematical brain – for those who wish, you can use the word magical instead) about musicals? Such a glorious way to tell stories via symphonies and melodious phrasing. Sure, you may not get the best character depth or scenery as a book or movie, but I think the beauty of the music and the emotions that talented singers emphasize the lyrics can transport one to an entirely different sphere.
Since April (now infamous for the COVID and lockdowns and all that), I’ve been educating myself on various musicals. I must thank The Story Sponge and all her lovely musical theatre-related posts and playlists and recommends for most of this re-introduction phase. Before this year, I was only very familiar with three that I absolutely loved to re-play: 1) Les Miserables (thanks to the 2012 film starring Hugh Jackman), 2) The Greatest Showman, 3) and A Tale of Two Cities by Jill Santoriello (It’s Sydney Carton. Of course I love it. Especially when sung by a voice James Barbour has.) Fiddler on the Roof, White Christmas, Holiday Inn, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins, and The Sound of Music are the other musical films I’ve watched, the first several almost annually. But I’ve never found the soundtrack to be quite so thrilling to replay, since they include a lot of essential visuals.
Now I’ve listened through eleven (almost twelve, since I’m mostly through Annie Get Your Gun) musicals that are new to me. And I love them all, to various degrees. But this is not meant to be a ranking list. Not yet. 😉
Today I’ve to introduce you to a concept musical you’ve most likely not have heard of before. I think it’s the perfect musical for our times. (I stumbled across it myself on Amazon while searching for music performed by Ramin Karimloo (who will always be my favorite male voice in musical theatre, due to, well, The Phantom of course).
Now, this is not a completed musical. Only a concept release. And since I purchased the MP3 album (I consider $8.99 a bargain), I do not have the booklet explaining everything clearly. And whole story is not really apparent via the songs exclusively. Yet I’ve found myself listening to it on repeat just about every time I have my computer music player on at home.
“An American Victory is set in 1801, as America experiences brutal attacks on its ships by government sponsored [Mediterranean] pirates, whose extortion demands have grown to reach twenty percent of the entire government’s budget. Based on actual historical events, An American Victory tells the story of an audacious act of defiance against organized terror that forever changes the lives of all those caught in the swirling struggle, and the path of a nation.”
Composer-lyricist Louis R. Bucalo: “The situation and struggle of those who fought this battle in our country’s earliest days is as powerful and resonant now as it was to those who lived it. Once I came to know them, I wanted to tell their story.”
It’s just the concept. The premise. The historical setting. The idea, really, and the individual tracks’ lyrics along with the instrumental and voices (and believe me, each are breathtakingly beautiful, there isn’t a voice on this that I disliked) – those are what makes this entire album glorious for me.
The style is leaning on the legit/classical side – not pop. Plenty of vibrato to lift my heart to soaring (and not excessive, so still conversational).
I didn’t love it the first time through. But the second time through, certain ones struck out at me. And that kept going until I’ve got every single one memorized. I love that American Revolutionary Era setting. The patriotic and fighting spirit. And ships and pirates? Count me in. It’s about fighting against tyranny, for family, for glory, for honor, for freedom. It’s thoroughly hopeful and uniting and victorious, and (I’m so thankful for this aspect) not in the wholly humanistic manner. (It’s not revisionist in its historical aspect, but traditional and true to the times and spirit of the times.) It reminds me that while not every turn in life is happy or what we want, there are so much more in the journey: struggle and hope and journey and grace and courage and redemption and the knowledge that we will see our loved ones again. And that is true joy.
I suppose I took the story the tracks gave me, and added my own details to it. I think over the times I’ve enjoyed the music, I gave the characters more backstory than revealed, and gave them a more vivid future than any laid-out plotline could ever do.
Never really expected all this from simply a concept album, yet that’s what happened. And I’m wondering if that’s unique to me.
I recommend you give it a try. It’s not widely known or mentioned. And I do fervently wish they will find the support to be develop to a stage musical, since I would so love an actual cast of characters and etc., and to be honest I don’t know how long concept albums typically need. But in the meantime: Just listen. And tell me what you think! 🙂 (Hopefully after listening to it a few times.)
I actually love this album from beginning to end. But some highlights would be: “Glory Bound,” “Revolution,” “The Road You’re On,” “All I Am,” “Please My Love,” “My Child Can You Hear Me?” “Sons of Adventure,” “No Way to Change That Now,” and “A World Away.”
What I listen to for waking up:
Have you heard of this musical? What do you think of it? Are you interested enough to listen to it? Can you of think of similar musicals set in this historical era that you like (I’m sure some of you are going to mention Hamilton – allow me to commend that this musical has not a quarter of the content and all of the spirit)? Are there any little-known/mentioned musicals you’d like to recommend?
Let me know in the comments!