Our First Mistake-The Songs of Kait Kerrigan & Brian Lowdermilk

Out of all the contemporary musical theatre albums that have been released recently, I think it's safe to say that Hillary and I were most excited for Kerrigan-Lowdermilk's Our First Mistake. Actually, "excited" doesn't even begin to cover it. What other musical writer/composer duo would inspire me to run back from class (literally) to Hillary's apartment upon hearing the news that her autographed hard copy of the newly minted album had finally arrived in the mail? (Yes, I felt dumb. And yes, my lungs felt like they were going to disintegrate, thanks to the frigid temperatures. But did feeling like an idiot for ten minutes and temporarily not being able to breathe compare to the euphoria of finally popping that CD into our computers and pressing PLAY? Of course not.)


Their fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, which began last September, was appropriately titled "Help Kerrigan-Lowdermilk Make the Best Album Ever" and raised over $35,000 to put together Kait and Brian's debut album. It not only includes some of the best songwriting out in the stratosphere today, but also some of the most crazy-talented artists we've ever heard! Seriously. And what's more, Kerrigan-Lowdermilk's songs are just as accessible to musical theater people as they are to pop music people.

We've plugged them. We've seen several of their songs performed in concert. (And are eagerly awaiting their dual CD release show at le Poisson Rouge in February, along with Jonathan Reid Gealt!) We've listened to an excessive number of YouTube videos of their songs. And now we finally have an official album that takes everything we love about the way these songs sound live, and translates them perfectly - PERFECTLY - to a recording. And we think that's pretty great.

Due to our level of borderline obsession with Our First Mistake, supported by our iTunes playcounts and the fact we've had this album for less than a week, we thought it would only be appropriate to give you, our readers, a rundown of each of the album's ten glorious tracks. Because then you'll have even more reason to head over to iTunes, Sh-K-Boom, Amazon, or your local music store to pick up a copy. Actually, you should anyways. And while you're at it, buy an extra copy for your best friend. And your Great Aunt Sue. And your dog. Yeah.

1. "Say the Word" - Vienna Teng
To quote Kait and Brian's first video on Kickstarter, Vienna Teng is an indie pop darling! Our only previous exposure to her was as a performer at Kerrigan & Lowdermilk's "Under the Influence" show at Birdland last March. But while we love the version of "Say the Word" on the Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown demo, sung by the fabulous Meghann Fahy, this recording captures all the beauty of the lyrics and melody perfectly, and serves as a perfect example of how the duo's songs fit snuggly into the context of both theater and pop.

2. "Five and a Half Minutes" - Katie Thompson
What to say about this track, except to praise Ms. Thompson's voice!! It sounds exactly like every live recording and YouTube video we've ever seen of it. It sounds so ridiculously good. In a recent interview with Ms. Kerrigan, she was asked to recount a story from her childhood that explained who she was as a writer and a person. When you listen to the song, I think you'll see part of her response contained in the lyrics:

I guess the reason that story comes to mind because I get really stuck on things I don't understand, things I can't name. Honestly, it doesn't even matter if I name it incorrectly. The naming of it, making something feel like it makes sense, is all that matters. And that's sort of what writing is for me.
It's one of my absolute favorite K-L songs, and I'm so glad they put it on the album.

3. "Run Away With Me" - Michael Arden
Everyone who ever sings this song always sounds incredible. (Matt Doyle, Aaron Tveit, and Joshua Henry, just to name a few.) And Michael Arden is no exception. After relying on YouTube for so long to hear his version, it's SO GREAT to have an actual recording. He brought a new interpretation with his phrasing, and it was just as cramazing as every other version we've heard. Also, we would like to submit some peeps for consideration to sing this song in the future. Adam Chanler-Berat. Jay A. Johnson. Kyle Dean Massey. Brian Justin Crum. Will Chase. Make it happen, friends.

4. "Not a Love Story" - Kelli O'Hara
Remember that time Hillary held the door open for Ms. O'Hara at le Poisson Rouge? Yeah. So do we. Again, this sounds exactly like it did live. Ms. O'Hara has one of the most beautiful, clear voices we have ever heard and it sounds incredible on this recording. Nothing but praise for this track. It's one of the ones I've had to put on repeat and soak in a few times in a row.

5. "Last Week's Alcohol" - Matt Doyle
This song. We love this song. (See a common pattern yet?) It's the only one on the album that K-L really beefed up and added a lot to, and it was an excellent choice. The new bass line and techno flavor (or, "German techno beat" - aha...) are awesome.

6. "My Heart is Split" - Laura Osnes and Meghann Fahy
Laura Osnes. Meghann Fahy. Need we say more? We do? Okay then. Gorgeous voices. We've listened so many times to try and figure out who sings what. Laura Osnes has first verse. Meghann has second and into the bridge, but by the end we don't know who has melody and who has harmony, but IT DOESN'T MATTER. This song is amazing. It makes us wish dearly that we could play the guitar (well), and that the Spring Standards would cover this song (see track 10). The lyrics perfectly encapsulate everything Hillary and I felt when we transitioned to college; hell, it's how we still feel now. I adore this song.

7. "How to Return Home" - Natalie Weiss
We think there's probably a reason that Ms. Weiss is featured on EVERYONE'S albums these days. For an indication of why, just listen to this song. Um... her voice is crazy good, and she doesn't even sound like she's straining to belt her face off. Gorgeous. Another song that encapsulates those ever-present feelings of change between who we were before we came to college and who we are becoming.

8. "Two Strangers" - Morgan Karr, Matt Doyle, and Jay A. Johnson
Okay. THIS might be our absolute favorite track on the entire album. Even though it's totally impossible to pick a favorite. But from the second we first watched this video from K-L's Birdland concert, we were hooked. And then we heard the song live at the New Musical Theatre.com launch concert last spring...and somehow became even more hooked. Three of our favorite male performers, singing a RIDICULOUSLY amazing song...it really doesn't get any better than this, folks. Morgan Karr's voice (and diction) is nuts. Be sure to turn up the volume all the way for the first 12 seconds of the track to get the full effect of the driving strings section.

9. "A Mistake" - Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk
This beautiful piano interlude is just over a minute long, but it shows so much personality and the depth of what this album must mean to K-L. It includes the themes from "Last Week's Alcohol" but trails off in several other directions as well, and I'm curious to know the premise behind including it on the album.

10. "Run Away With Me" - The Spring Standards
As we arrive at the final track, is it evident yet how much we completely adore this collection of beautiful songs?! We're not quite sure how the universe collided, introduced two of our favorite and most respected groups of musicians, and allowed them to collaborate, but that's what happened when the Spring Standards first performed "Run Away With Me" at the aforementioned Birdland concert that we somehow did not/could not attend. Wah-wah. But seriously, any question of why the same song was recorded twice for the album should be thrown right out the window into the ever-growing amount of snow outside. It's a combination of all the best things in life. It's such a kickass version of one of our favorite K-L songs. (I know, I know, we already picked, like, a million favorite songs.) Love.

Lyrics for all of these songs can be found here!

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