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'Sing to Me Instead' review: Powerful pop debut from Broadway star Ben Platt

Ben Platt's "Sing to Me Instead" on Atlantic

Ben Platt's "Sing to Me Instead" on Atlantic Records. Credit: Atlantic Records

BEN PLATT

Sing to Me Instead

BOTTOM LINE A revealing pop debut from the Broadway star

Ben Platt is well on his way to becoming a multi-platform superstar.

The 25-year-old star of Broadway’s “Dear Evan Hansen” is already three-fourths of the way to an EGOT thanks to the show’s success, landing a Tony for playing the title role in the musical, a Grammy for his part in the soundtrack, and a Daytime Emmy for a performing songs on the “Today” show. 
He’s already set to play the lead in Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix series “The Politician” and he has roles in the upcoming movies “Run This Town” and “Broken Diamonds.”

But it’s his debut solo album, “Sing to Me Instead” (Atlantic), where Platt really gets to introduce himself and he makes the most of the opportunity. He co-wrote all 12 of the album’s tracks and nearly all of them feel like intensely personal insights into former relationships.

On the first single, “Bad Habit,” Platt drives the piano ballad with a wide range of emotions and corresponding vocals that move from conversational to booming Broadway. He has moments where he fits next to Sam Smith, especially on the gospel-soul of “Temporary Love,” and even Adele, on “Hurt Me Once,” which Platt co-wrote with Eg White, who co-wrote Adele’s breakthrough hit, “Chasing Pavements.”

Those are the times when Platt sounds most restrained, when he doesn’t push into the showy vocal heights that are generally required on Broadway. In a more conventional pop singer’s hands, a song like the dramatic, but idiosyncratic, ballad “Better” could be a sure-fire pop hit. But the intensity Platt brings to lines like “Did you keep my sweater, sweater?Did you read my letter, letter?” is what makes the song undeniably his. The sweet, goofy “Share Your Address,” where Platt declares, “I want a key to your house” and “I wanna be your emergency contact,” feels authentically offbeat.

Maybe Platt wants to add suave pop star to his growing lists of accomplishments someday, but, for now, his adorkable realness works just fine.

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