The song cycle The Soul Fox by Lori Laitman, chronicling the dissolution of a marriage after infidelity in short, deft strokes, gets top billing on this release from the U.S. label Equilibrium Recordings. But Kansas-based soprano Julia Broxholm, in her own notes, offers the opinion that "there has never been a more exciting time for American song," and it's actually the program as a whole that's most compelling. There are two sets of very short songs, one by Ned Rorem, who certainly served as inspiration for the younger composers on the album.
The other is unique: a "Collection of Epitaphs and Elegies" by various composers, just a minute or two in length, filtering the basic idea through different prisms. Broxholm and pianist Russell Miller round out the program with contemporary songs by a male composer, Eric Ewazen, setting works of a female poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and an older group of songs by a female composer, Amy Beach, setting texts by Robert Browning. You can speculate on the influence of gender in these works, but the bottom line is that the program is unusually stimulating and coherent. Broxholm's voice will be a matter of taste: its size is well suited to these songs, but the pitch may be uncertain at times. An unusual recital recommended for those interested in American art song.