Idina Menzel

I Stand

Being 40 and semi-old school, I still like walking down a music aisle and grabbing a CD off the shelf. Being semi-new school, too, I like to take a listen online before unwrapping, the point of no return. That’s what I did with Idina Menzel—Broadway star, actor Taye Diggs’ wife, co-writer of nine songs (out of 10) on her major-label debut. Had I popped I Stand into the car stereo, I would have ejected it during the second song. But since the Web sampling began with “Brave” and included “Gorgeous,” my first impression didn’t come from the overwrought-to-trite sequence of the title track and “Better to Have Loved.” I knew greater things lay ahead, so I kept going. I’m kinda glad I did. Menzel’s voice is undeniably distinct, with shades of Stevie Nicks and Taylor Dayne (really!). Her songwriting isn’t as extraordinary, particularly lyrics that seem ripped from a teen diary: “Where do I belong when you’re not here / This is way beyond my darkest fear.” Yet just as my enthusiasm waned, along came “I Feel Everything,” and the CD ends on a strong note with “Perfume and Promises.” So, I’d suggest that unless you’re a theater teen who adores angsty pop, bypass the disc and go straight to iTunes.