In the Cookie Jar: Mix tape and mixed bag

The Hamilton Mixtape
The Hamilton Mixtape

The Hamilton Mixtape

While the musical Hamilton has reinvented Broadway for a new generation, it is the music, like Rent before it, that truly is catching on like fire. Wisely, the creators have capitalized on this phenomenon and released The Hamilton Mixtape. The variety of artists included in the package runs the gamut from John Legend with the stirring “History Has It’s Eyes On You” to Ashanti reuniting with her duet partner Ja Rule on Helpless.” There are several standouts on the package that arguably surpass the original Broadway version of the tracks.

Jimmy Fallon & The Roots take on “You’ll Be Back” turning it into an organ driven track right up Fallon’s alley. Alicia Keys soars on the subdued track “That Would Be Enough,” and Andra Day continues her takeover of 2016 with her take on the ballad “Burn.” The one track that truly stands more than on its own is Kelly Clarkson’s take on “It’s Quiet Uptown.” Giving it a pop flair in the production only enhances the meaning behind the song and Clarkson’s vocals; the last few verses of this track will most likely leave you gutted.

Alexa Green "So Good"
Alexa Green “So Good”

Alexa Green

If you have ever been lucky enough to see Alexa Green sing live, you are in for a rare treat. From Marty Thomas’ Presents DIVA at Therapy in New York City to The Blue Moon in Rehoboth Beach, DE, seeing Alexa scorch the stage live with her breathtaking vocals is a must see. Now, we are able to take Green’s vocals with us wherever we want with her album So Good. While the album dropped several months ago, it is hitting its stride now with a nomination for Best New Solo Recording by Tracks like “California/Come Rain or Come Shine” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road/Look to the Rainbow” show Green’s chops with upbeat pop classics as well as soothing ballads, and on “New York Medley” shows that this girl is a Broadway baby through and through. She gets a hand on a couple tracks from Chad Lefkowitz-Brown and his sax on tracks like the aforementioned “Medley” and the blues-inspired “Blues in the Night” and from Rich Green on “A Piece of Sky.” Green more than shines on her own though, showing us on tracks like “If It’s Over” exactly why we will be hearing this voice beyond the Broadway stages for some time to come.

Olly Murs "24 Hours"
Olly Murs “24 Hours”

Olly Murs

Olly Murs has been making louder and louder rumblings in the USA since his 2009 sixth place finish on The X Factor. While his album 24 Hours contained a number of pop-styled infectious tracks, the acoustic release of 24 hours is an EP that holds six of the best tracks from 24 Hours styled simply with Murs voice front and center. You can hear the true yearning on “You Don’t Know Love” and “Grow Up” sounds slightly even more infectious and pop perfect. Like his country-mate Robbie Williams before him, Murs may be able to churn out a fantastic pop track, but can truly shine on a simple ballad. Track like “Flaws” and “Love You More” show that Murs does not need a large production behind him to elicit emotion from his music, and that acoustically, his material and his talent shine just as bright.

Grace Vanderwaal "Perfectly Imperfect"
Grace Vanderwaal “Perfectly Imperfect”

Grace Vanderwaal

Since she walked onto the stage of America’s Got Talent and Howie Mandel gave her the “Golden Buzzer” we knew that we were in for a treat every time Grace VanderWaal appeared. After winning the entire show (and the one million dollar prize and Las Vegas contract that went with it) VanderWaal rushed into the studio to record her first EP “Perfectly Imperfect.” As expected, it’s simply sublime and focuses on exactly what made us fall in love with this pint-sized powerhouse to begin with. From the first strains of “I Don’t Know My Name,” this singer-songwriter is delivering and then some. One of the best parts of VanderWaal’s story is that, at the ripe age of twelve years old, she writes her own music. With tracks like “Clay” and “Beautiful Thing” she writes with an experience far beyond her age, and shows a slightly different style on the upbeat and pop-perfect Gossip Girl. While Simon Cowell may have christened her the new Taylor Swift during her appearances on Talent this girl’s raw vocals may have something better in store for us.