Sunday, 23 March 2014

CD Review: Love on 42nd Street

"Lost myself in the night"

Love on 42nd Street is an album of new music by composer duo Daniel and Laura Curtis, recorded by a stellar line-up of West End and Broadway performer, all in aid of raising money for the BBC’s Children in Need campaign. As performers, the Curtises are noted for their interpretations of Ivor Novello‘s works and the Great American Songbook, and these influences are plain to see in the set of eight songs that make up this collection.

Written specifically for these performers, the composers have deliberately chosen to span a range of genres but the feel is always reflective. Song construction, melody lines, string arrangements are relatively traditional, frequently stirring and soaring though rarely superlative. Part of the problem lies in its professionalism, several of the songs are presented with a radio-friendly polished sheen which lacks the passionate theatrical edge that would really make them stand out.

Fortunately, there are moments where the performances transcend the treatment. John Owen-Jones radiates passionate charisma in the driving ‘Tell Me What Makes A Man’, a supremely confident vocal from Samantha Barks lifts ‘Fixed My Broken Wings’ to wonderful places, and the winner of the Your Voice talent competition Kasia Howley more than justifies that decision, showing off her gorgeously rich voice on the elegant interpretation of the string-laden ‘Now’, one of the album’s high points.

And elsewhere, there is a fascinating diversity to the music, especially in the deliberately old fashioned ‘You Caught Me Off Guard’ which could slot into a Richard Rodgers musical, Sierra Boggess’ quavering soprano a perfect retro fit. And Ramin Karimloo’s ‘Why Am I Falling’ has a dreamy pop-rock quality that is quite compelling. Love on 42nd Street is undoubtedly an accomplished collection, proving Daniel & Laura Curtis’ gift for writing a song, and piquing the interest in what kind of full musical they might come up with.

Originally written for The Public Reviews

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