Is chivalry dead? Are there no more virtuous leaders in our lives? Don Quixote, the legendary tale of a man on a journey to undo the wrongs and who’s story warped into a long-running Broadway musical, Man Of La Mancha, is an interesting choice for anyone to interpret. Ricky Comeaux is that interesting of a man, and he takes on the Broadway tune, “I, Don Quixote” in his debut solo effort If I Ruled The World. Lending his gregarious voice, Comeaux tackles the legendary Quixote and leaves listeners amazed.
If I Ruled The World is comprised of 11 tracks, some of which Comeaux has sang multiple times, and other’s he’s a newbie. Besides “I, Don Quixote”, Comeaux mixes in classic rock or pop rock songs with well-known Broadway tunes: “Theme from Kiss of the Spider Woman”, “Tell Me on a Sunday” (Andrew Lloyd-Webber), “Since I Fell For You” (Lenny Welch, Al Jarreau), “It’s Over” (Roy Orbison), “Hallelujah” (Leonard Cohen) and more.
I am I / Don Quixote, the Lord of La Mancha / my destiny calls and I go, Comeaux sings, embodying the character and brooding with confidence. Though a recording, his singing transports the listener to a theatre stage, a setting that feels intimate. His backing music sounds like it’s in the pit, but not a full band. His vocals are mixed over the strings, over the percussion. This is not a modern version of the song, he plays it pretty close to the sleeve, and close to the original (1965). As a listener I was swayed by his voice. He made me believe; Comeaux’s strength is his relatability. His power is also in weaving together a realm of nostalgia and bringing it into the modern lens and conversation. Comeaux, I think, is not just living in the past.
Comeaux, who came to prominence in Houston in the 1980s and 1990s as part of the duo, Atwood and Comeaux, has a definite ease behind the mic. His voice is not operatic, but it definitely hits some crazy octaves. He’s a natural. For some reason, I kept thinking back to the Britain’s Got Talent episode where Susan Boyle premiered; her rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream” left many mouths agape and stunned the crowd. For many music fans, we don’t often gravitate towards musical theatre. It’s a shame, and we should. I think Comeaux could do the same to his audiences what Boyle did on her TV debut.
He’s unexpectedly refreshing. He has just the slightest patina sheen to his voice; a ruggedness that gives him the every-man appeal. What one listener might interpret as drama, another listener might experience as joy and rejoice. His voice unearths a myriad of reactions. It’s important to note, though that one doesn’t have to know the story of Don Quixote to understand the sentiment or context. Comeaux sings with such gusto and strength he might as well be himself. Onward to glory I go! Comeaux exhales in the last line, a thunderous pack underneath him. If you don’t have goose bumps by then, I can’t help you.