Track-by-Track Breakdown: Explore the Romantic Journey of In Pieces: A New Musical (Highlights)

track-by-track-breakdown:-explore-the-romantic-journey-of-in-pieces:-a-new-musical-(highlights)

Cast Recordings & Albums   Track-by-Track Breakdown: Explore the Romantic Journey of In Pieces: A New Musical (Highlights)

Andrew Barth Feldman, George Salazar, Solea Pfeiffer, and more sing in Joey Contreras’ ode to relationships.

In Pieces: A New Musical reflects on the romantic journeys of eight individuals as they share, ponder, and look back on the chosen paths and partners along the way. Set in New York City and featuring songs written over the last twelve years of my life, this show naturally tells a lot of my personal love stories. However, when recontextualizing and threading them into this larger narrative between multiple characters, I found that, even outside of me, these songs examine how we receive and react and grow in a universal sense. It is often bittersweet, but that’s okay.

About halfway through 2020, the show began to receive some new momentum and while most of its music was spread about on previous albums of mine, there were a handful of songs—many that were written or rearranged specifically for this show—that had not been released. We decided to create a Highlights album to not only showcase the rest of In Pieces, but to also give people an idea of it’s cohesion and energy.

Joey Contreras
Joey Contreras

Crazily, it’s the biggest album I’ve recorded yet and it was nearly all worked on remotely during this pandemic. Each singer recorded separately—some in my home studio, some in their closets in LA or Atlanta, or in studios in Nashville. The band consisted of me and my husband Brian Russell Carey laying down piano, strings, bass, and programming at home, with drummer Josh Roberts and guitarist Justin Goldner each sending in their tracks from their respective home studios. Some of the mixing engineers we worked with lived in Chicago, one in Scotland, all of us using technology to really build this album. It was definitely a huge undertaking, but I’m so proud of what we made. Everyone delivered an incredible performance.

In Pieces: A New Musical (Highlights) is available on all streaming platforms through Broadway Records. A digital presentation of the show by Future Spotlight Production (with a different cast) gets an encore presentation May 14-28. To learn more, click here.

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1. “Fork in the Road (Intro)” – Performed by In Pieces Ensemble: Sean Doherty, Ashley De La Rosa, Mia Gerachis, Brad Greer, Tommy Kaiser, Emily Kristen Morris, Stevi Incremona, and Nygel D. Robinson

The show opens in this space of reflection where each of our characters are looking back and pondering if they made the right choices along the way. It’s pure, contemplative, and introduces a musical and lyrical motif that comes back later.

2. “You Never Know” – Performed by Brad Greer, Mia Gerachis, and In Pieces Ensemble

We immediately segue into this next song that is buzzing with hope and excitement. I wanted to show our characters in a place of chosen optimism that isn’t forced or naive, but consciously open to the next adventure. In Pieces normally has eight principal actors, and while this Highlights album conceptually features some additional guest performers, I wanted us to still hear a core cast of eight throughout. Here we get to establish that cast and I absolutely love how the whole song came together. None of my music is easy to sing. It’s a lot of rhythmic pocket, multi-octave singing with crunchy harmonies and pop stylings, so when you pair that with the massive production—those drums! the emotional slide guitar!—I think we all really accomplished something pretty magical.

3. “Me and Mr. Popularity” – Performed by Andrew Barth Feldman

This song is about an unexpected friendship between two seemingly different guys. It’s full of innocence and curiosity and such a sweet beginning to this character’s journey. I had been wanting to work with Andrew Barth Feldman for a while. He is such a gifted and likable storyteller, but then has the vocals to match, so this could not have been a more perfect project for us. “Me and Mr. Popularity” was actually one of the first songs I recorded for the album. In fact, I don’t think I was even planning to make a full album when I originally pitched this to Andrew. He was one of the artists who recorded remotely from his home, so I think the success and fun of this recording process gave me the confidence to make a great sounding record under different circumstances.

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George Salazar Nick Agro

4. “This Is Not Me” – Performed by George Salazar

This is probably the darkest song in the show, if not, in my entire catalog of music. As an LGBTQIA+ writer, all of my songs have a queer undertone, and I’ve always celebrated and shared my authentic love stories with boys. However, I don’t tend to tackle some of the more intense issues we face in the community. This song was very much out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to dive into struggling with identity and sexuality and how that can manifest itself into behavior that is sometimes scary and addicting and confusing, all while keeping it hidden from the public.

5. “Like You Don’t Miss Me” – Performed by Stevi Incremona, Natalie Weiss, and Ashley De La Rosa

I originally released this song as a solo pop single back in 2016. I had written it after hearing an ex was going on a little breakup press tour, broadcasting his new life and dalliances, and so I was feeling a little feisty. For In Pieces, it was rearranged as kind of a Destiny’s Child-like trio, where three of our characters are out on the town, feeling a little sauced and sassy. I love what we did with the production on this one. The opening has this seductive guitar hook with pizzicato strings which then builds with the bass, snaps, and piano until the first chorus drop. Super satisfying.

6. “Another New York Love Story” – Performed by Leslie Hiatt

Breaking away from the “party through the feels” vibes from the previous song, we take a turn into some of the most vulnerable storytelling on this album, sharing a very relatable New York situation: running into your ex on a crowded uptown 1 train at 2 AM. Leslie Hiatt gives a masterclass performance and the beautiful acoustic guitar work by Justin Goldner compliments the sensitivity and emotion that runs throughout. “Another New York Love Story” is definitely my love letter to NYC, where it all feels so big yet so small, exhausting but still enticing, and filled with millions of love stories.

7. “Love Me, Love Me Not” – Performed by David Archuleta

My career really started with this song. It was the name of my first album and it continues to be one of the songs people most know me for. “Love Me, Love Me Not” is about trying to help someone break down their walls and be open to the love in front of them. It has been reimagined a few different ways over the years—most notably the Natalie Weiss and Ben Fankhauser acoustic duet version that came out in 2019—but the song was actually first written as a male solo and in In Pieces, it makes it’s return as such. It was so fun to have David Archuleta on this recording. He is truly one of the best vocalists out there with such iconic tone and phrasing. And I’m pretty good at developing riffs and definitely thought I had heard it all within this song, but he came up with some really unique and tasteful choices that was just such a nice balance of keeping it classic, but also making it refreshing.

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Solea Pfeiffer Bruce Glikas/GettyEntertainment

8. “Singin’ the Same Line” – Performed by Solea Pfeiffer and In Pieces Ensemble

This is the most recent song I wrote for In Pieces. I was inspired by watching the experiences others were going through. How there are these very charismatic people who are a bit more complicated, and not quite wanting to be locked down, but still everyone keeps taking their shot knowing the red flags and can’t help themselves. How do you get your fix from someone who isn’t fixed themselves? So I imagined all of these people coming together as a support group where they can commiserate and laugh and connect on this one person they all just can’t quit. It’s actually a little bit lighter than how some people have interpreted it, but overall this song helped me reconnect with a songwriting joy I hadn’t felt in awhile.

9. “In Pieces” – Performed by Ben Fankhauser and In Pieces Ensemble

As the show comes to an end, some of the final questions asked are packed into this song. I used to be afraid that I could only be desired or loved temporarily. It’s a vulnerable conversation to have with yourself and with whomever you may be seeing at the time. There’s a tricky dance of trying to protect your heart, but also let go and dive in beyond just pieces with people. By the end of the song, the characters are finding their worth, their value, and seeing how that can be applied to the next step. The “You Never Know” motif returns at the end like a sunrise on a new day.

10. “Fork in the Road” – Performed by Joey Contreras, Tommy Kaiser, and In Pieces Ensemble

Almost like an epilogue, this song completes the picture of how we started. The characters have some distance from the tales with a little more clarity and acceptance of the choices that were made throughout the years. I think of this song as a supercut of life, bringing back familiar melodies, but in new ways, and the final breath at the end is like a little emotional weight being lifted. Ahhh… love!

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