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Uncharted Territory- Album of Pop Songs by Stephen Schwartz

Compact Disc cover: Uncharted TerritoryUncharted Territory [new browser window]

Songlist

1. Recurring Dream
2. Rewriting History
3. Worth Waiting
4. Cold Enough To Snow
5. Toxic People
6. The Roads Untaken
7. Face Of A Stranger
8. The Line Forms On The Right
9. Since I Gave My Heart Away
10. Boy On The Roof
11. Forgiveness' Embrace

The CD features performances by Stephen with a variety of accompaniments, along with the ethereal voice of Anne Marie Milazzo, who sang "When You Believe" on The Stephen Schwartz Album.

Stephen offers his rendition of several recorded elsewhere, including "Cold Enough to Snow" (the first Menken/Schwartz song - from Life with Mikey), "Rewriting History" (Schwartz/Lutvak), and "Since I Gave My Heart Away" (Schwartz - from Geppetto). These alone makes the recording worth adding to your collection.

The CD includes the first recording of "Forgiveness' Embrace" that Stephen wrote for Cass Morgan for a one-person show.

Review of Uncharted Territory

CD comments by Long-term Schwartz fan Michael Dube

Well, I've finally had time to sit down and really digest the new Stephen Schwartz CD. It has some mind-blowing songs on it. "Forgiveness' Embrace" is my favorite on the CD. The melodic turns and twists are absolutely breathtaking (I found myself letting out a positive stream of expletives -- somewhat inconsistently with the tenor of the song -- following listening to it on my car stereo on my way to work today). In "Toxic People," Stephen yet again manages to bring obserational songwriting to its peak. I especially like the humor of the spoken tag part. It reminds me in a very good way of Rupert Holmes' "Psycho Drama." .... Finally, it is so incredible to hear the realization of Stephen's assertion to many that he was to record "Cold Enough To Snow," which remains one of his five strongest lyrics to date. ... And I don't think I've stopped humming "You touch a part of my heart / That's uncharted territory" in about four or five hours.

UNCHARTED TERRITORY - Stephen Schwartz Ventures Onto The Roads Untaken -- By Shawn McCarthy

If there is a song title that summarizes the overall feeling one has after listening to Stephen Schwartz's second 'pop' album, UNCHARTED TERRITORY, it most certainly would be track number three, "Worth Waiting For." Since the release of Stephen's first pop CD RELUCTANT PILGRIM in 1997, fans have anxiously waited to discover more of his consistently outstanding music and lyrics; they will, undoubtedly, not be disappointed.

Indeed, the album lives up to its name as Stephen, musically speaking, ventures into new areas. Like much of Stephen's previous work it's well produced, contains smart, insightful life observations and is composed in his catchy pop- influenced musical style. However, several of the songs are a musical departure and, in particular, their arrangements. "Toxic People," for example, has a funky R & B groove, which relies heavily on percussion and electronics. As well, the clever and witty lyrics are sure to provoke a laugh-out-loud response from the listener.

The opening song "Recurring Dream" (co-written by Mary Fahl) moves in yet another musical direction. It's an unusually understated song, building slowly, but consistently subtle throughout, with an accompaniment figure that could be described as sparse and atmospheric. This beautiful and ambient music, together with the descriptive imagery of the lyric, is a transporting experience: "You are here in my dreams Land of images and signs Sleep now, I'll meet you there On the other side of time We all are just points on the line We'll meet again; we'll meet again in time."

Each song on the CD is a self-contained story: some concerning the ups and downs of relationships, others more individually reflective. All of them enjoyable. "Face of a Stranger," written for Australian performer Phillip Quast, is poignant and gorgeously articulates the longing to find one's true home and place of belonging. The music has a driving yet flowing keyboard accompaniment (harpsichord-like) that's somehow reminiscent of other songs by Stephen ("Hardest Part of Love" and "Lost in the Wilderness" from Children of Eden come to mind). The second chorus exemplifies the singer's plight:

"The face of a stranger/No longer at home in that house on the hill
The face of a stranger/The boy that they raised there is gone without trace/And even the fam'ly he's built in their place/Regard him with love, but they're loving the face/Of a stranger"

"Boy on the Roof" has a smooth Latin flavor enhanced by the use of guitar and mandolin in the arrangement. Its metaphorical story, played out in the mind's eye, tells of the protagonist's life-long state of emotional detachment and how, without warning, the force of love breaks through, changing him forever. Its refrain is particularly haunting: "Who can say when love will catch us?/Like a sudden summer shower/Who can say when love will change us?/None of us can name the hour/Just await the sweet surrender /To the power"

Stephen has collaborated with a number of outstanding writers on this album including cabaret artist Steven Lutvak on "Rewriting History," the amazing John Bucchino on the frank and humorous "The Line Forms On the Right," Alan Menken (Stephen's collaborator on POCAHONTAS and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME) on the bluesy "Cold Enough To Snow" from the 1993 movie Life With Mikey, and Lindy Robbins (one time member of the vocal group "The Tonics") on "The Roads Untaken." Robbins' bittersweet lyric will ring true for anyone who's ever looked back on his or her life and wondered "what if": "The roads untaken/Are the roads that haunt/Chances forsaken/Are the choices I regret And in the end, I guess/We do what we want/But the things that never happened/Are the hardest to forget."

Other gems to discover include: "Forgiveness' Embrace" written for Cass Morgan and published in THE STEPHEN SCHWARTZ SONGBOOK, a lovely heart-felt-acoustic-based version of "Since I Gave My Heart Away" from the TV musical GEPPETTO and a bonus track available only for orders placed directly with Fynsworth Alley (FynsworthAlley.com) called "Promise To Remember Me" with music by film composer Alan Silvestri. The musicianship on the CD is of the highest caliber; Stephen's keyboard work is excellent, his vocals passionate and heartfelt. He's joined by a number of talented vocalists and musicians who appeared with him on "Reluctant Pilgrim" including singer Ann Marie Milazzo, drummer Shawn Pelton and guitarist Jay Condiotti.

Though several of these songs might fit comfortably on an album called "RELUCTANT PILGRIM Part II" Stephen doesn't play it safe by simply producing more of the same. Instead he opts for taking some risks, stretching himself as an artist, providing us all further proof of his seemingly limitless talent

Reluctant Pilgrim
Midder, 1997. From Amazon.com: Reluctant Pilgrim


cover for Reluctant Pilgrim CD