Sunday, 9 March 2014

CD Review: Ramin Karimloo – Within the Six Square Inch

“They used to tell me I was building a dream”

I’ve been working my way backwards through Ramin Karimloo’s back catalogue and so now I am at his 2004 self-released EP Within the Six Square Inch, where one can see interesting hints of how his career would develop and the relationships he has nurtured. The tension between musician and musical theatre star is also in evidence with a song selection that is far from intuitive and might help explain why it is so hard to track down the disc now.

The 8 tracks span a range of musicals from the better known (West Side Story) to the more obscure (The Last Session), a couple of Billy Joel covers and a folk standard. It gives an indication of the diversity of Karimloo’s musical background and the kind of recording artist he wanted to be but it makes for a curious mixture and the sequencing of the tracks doesn’t always help. But there are definite highlights in amongst the collection which make it worth tracking down.

First up is an a wonderfully loose, jazzy version of Buddy Can You Spare A Dime that sounds like its being improvised then and there, the same feeling shines through on a chilled version of West Side Story’s Maria too. And the two duets are also good fun – Hadley Fraser, still a frequent collaborator now, jams through a great take on New York State of Mind and Sophia Ragavelas, another co-star from Les Mis, is all restrained beauty on Written in the Stars from Elton John’s Aida.

So it then seems a little odd that both writers ae revisited a second time to finish the EP. Joel’s Lullaby (Goodnight my Angel) is one of those songs are often appears on personally curated collections for the resonance it clearly has for people but I’d happily never hear it again. And another song from Aida Radames’ Letter makes for an unexciting ending. The Rent cut One Song Glory really doesn’t float my boat but At Least I Know What’s Killing Me from Steve Schalchlin‘s The Last Session is a fun blues romp in which he indulges in some considerable vocal acrobatics. Interesting stuff.

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