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Gabriel Kahane - The Ambassador / Wall Street Journal review

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Gabriel Kahane, like many New Yorkers, held a certain disdain for the puffy glamour of Los Angeles. Growing up, he saw the California city as "this den of the superficial," says the musician. As he began spending more time in L.A. as an adult, "I became more and more aware of everything about the city that is not perceived by outsiders."

This reconsideration fueled his new album, The Ambassador. With its shades of Sufjan Stevens and Simon and Garfunkel, it's singer-songwriter meets pop, but with the tools of a classical composer. The project focuses on Los Angeles's culture and architecture. "My hypothesis was that Los Angeles had much more of a soul than I give it credit for, and that hypothesis was confirmed," Mr. Kahane says.

The singer-songwriter and composer, age 32, has maintained a foothold in both the pop and classical worlds. He wrote music and lyrics for "February House," a musical about a communal literary house in Brooklyn Heights that ran in 2012 at the Public Theater in New York, and his 2006 song cycle "Craigslistlieder," which uses Craigslist ads as the lyrics, has been performed at Lincoln Center and elsewhere in the U.S.

The debut Sony Masterworks album, which releases on Tuesday June 3rd, is a milestone for Mr. Kahane: both a major label's endorsement of his classically informed pop, and a concept album. It's set to become a fully staged production directed by Tony-winning director John Tiffany, to be performed at a handful of venues across the country, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in the fall. READ THE FULL Wall Street Journal REVIEW.