Friday, 7 August 2015

CD Review: Lift (Concept Album)

“One minute in a lift..."

Craig Adams and Ian Watson’s Lift played the Soho Theatre early in 2013 but before then, a concept album of the show was released with Perfect Pitch. The conceit of the musical is ingeniously simple – 8 strangers taking a minute-long trip in a lift in Covent Garden tube station but as they rise to the surface, we visit into the innermost thoughts of all of them and see how precariously poised their lives are, one little word or action could change everything if only they were brave enough to actually do it.

At not much over an hour and with a lot to fit in, not only is there the establishment of character but also a decision to show how interconnected their lives all are, Lift isn’t always as successful as it promises to be. Songs get fragmented and finish too abruptly as the perspective needs to swivel onto the next character, and it relies on a great deal of contrivance to force the narrative throughline into place very much at the expense of making us engage with this motley crew.

When Adams errs towards more conventional songwriting though, a real talent shines through – Jennifer Tierney’s hapless secretary in ‘That Rainy Day’ has a beautifully swirling depth, Jack Shalloo and Michael Xavier’s duet on ‘All About Her’ blends vocal lines earnestly and expertly and the rock-pop of ‘Lost In Translations’, delivered here by Louise Dearman rather than Julie Atherton who has now taken full ownership of the track, is a masterclass of miniature storytelling through song.

Atherton does appear, lending her superlative interpretative skill to ‘It’s Been A Year’, and there’s no doubting that there’s a lot to like about Lift, both the show and this album. Some of the single tracks are genuinely excellent and with some refinement of the overarching ambition, it could yet become a better musical. With the success of Thérèse Raquin now under his belt too, it is becoming increasingly clear that Adams is officially one to watch.


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