Introduction:

Broadway is still reeling from the game-changing success of Hamilton, the rap musical that has taken the world by storm. Over a year after their major Tony Award sweep, Broadway is now buzzing about an under-appreciated gem: Dear Evan Hansen. The pop musical tells the story of Evan Hansen, a suicidal teen with social anxiety and a broken family background who is told to write letters addressed to himself to subside the anxiety. After a classmate commits suicide and is found with one of Evan’s letters, he mistaken as a friend of Connor Murphy’s, propelling him into the life he’s always wanted when he lands his dream girl and gets a new family. But can a family built on lies stand? The fantastic musical is written by Steven Levenson with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Directed by the Tony-award winning Michael Greif (Rent) with orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire (Hamilton).

1. Anybody Have a Map?

The first song in the musical sets up the different family dynamics perfectly, backdropped by a great pop sound. The utilization of acoustic guitars and pop stylings similar to Phillip Phillips is great. It’s a wonderful song to start the musical with.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

2. Waiving Through A Window

This is the My Shot of Dear Evan Hansen. This is an amazing ballad that talks about Evan’s anxiety and desires, with subtle hints to his failed suicide attempt. It’s an incredible song that I am really surprised didn’t make a bigger splash with mainstream audiences.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

3. For Forever

The song follows Evan’s fantasy as he imagines what it would be like to have a best friend while painting a realistic, fantastical, tragic story for Connor’s parents about the last time he saw his “friend”. It’s a very well done ballad about friendship that really brings tears to the eyes.

Trak Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

4. Sincerely, Me

After Connor parents ask Evan for more letters between the two, he enlists the help of a classmate, Jacob, to forge emails between Connor and Evan that paint them as friends. It’s a fun, bantering, boisterous song that just rocks. It’s so fun to listen to and sing along with.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

5. Requiem

This song is tragic and a sad, acoustic song that shows the individual feelings of hurt, sorrow, and betrayal felt by the family of Connor Murphy. It’s a hard song to get through. It’s pretty, but it’s not one that I will revisit any time soon.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: A-

6. If I Could Tell Her

This is a great love song. Zoe, Connor’s sister and Evan’s dream girl, asks him if her brother ever said anything about her. Evan, not knowing Connor, just says how he feels about her and what he thinks about her as if her brother said it. Ben Platt and Laura Dreyfuss play off each other very well in this song and the brief acting bits in the recorded track are stellar. Platt’s vocals are incredible.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

7. Disappear

This is another tragic song, but the entire ensemble comes together to make this a positive song. The ghost of Connor that has been present with Evan throughout the story begs him to make sure he isn’t forgotten. As the chorus says, “No one deserves to be forgotten.” It picks up over the course of the song and ends in a swelling of emotions.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

8. You Will Be Found

Another ensemble piece, the act one finale picks right up from the previous track and provides hope and inspiration to the those who feel lost. It’s a wonderful song that is fueled with emotion and passion. It’s a great song and one of the best first act finales of all time.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

9. To Break In a Glove

This song felt out of place at first, but upon repeat listening, it fits perfectly. It not only gives Evan the father figure he always wanted and needed, it also shows Connor’s father’s pain of losing his son and the sense of failure he feels. It’s a beautiful and well-produced song.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

10. Only Us

The second love song of the show is not as good as the first. It’s a pretty duet where Zoe reassures Evan about why she loves him. It’s nice and adds to the story, but it isn’t the best version of what it was trying to be.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: A-

11. Good For You

This song is the only one that is fueled by anger and spit and thus is the only rock song in the show. It’s like a break up song between Evan’s mom and his two friends to him for leaving them behind for his new family with the Murphy’s. It’s the most underrated song of the show.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

12. Words Fail

This is really the saddest song of the show. Evan comes clean to the family in this emotional ballad that exposes the personality and the psyche of Evan Hansen. It’s an explosion of emotion and features the best singing and acting blend I’ve seen in Broadway history. Ben Platt is amazing.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

13. So Big/So Small

This was a really sad song that adds to Evan’s story and adds character to his mom, but overall, it feels sort of jarring and out of place. It’s nonetheless a good song. It really hits emotionally and gives Evan’s mom her due emotionally, bringing her range full circle.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

14. Finale

This short and sweet finale leaves the audience simultaneously satisfied with the landing, but wanting more of a definitive conclusion. There’s not much in this song to say anything negatively.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

Conclusion:

Dear Evan Hansen is an amazing project and is a masterclass in performance art. Ben Platt is a massive talent and the whole team involved hold their own and shine. If Dear Evan Hansen had not been released so close to Hamilton, I think it would’ve been more of a phenomenon. Overall, Dear Evan Hansen is worth the download and is one of the best musical theatre albums of all time.

Album Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

 

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