Monday, 9 May 2016

CD Review: Julian Ovenden - Be My Love

"There's no love song finer"

Be My Love is Julian Ovenden's second album after 2012's If You Stay and his first for East West Records. It sees the Downton Abbey and My Night With Reg star and delve into the Great American Songbook and focus on the section covered by the earlier half of the twentieth century. So the 13 tracks run the familiar gamut of Irving Berlin to Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hammerstein to Rodgers & Hart, his rich baritone-tenor voice sliding into these classic like smooth toffee.

Recorded in Frank Sinatra's Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles, the homage paid to the crooner is palpable indeed, both musically and stylistically. Ovenden's fine voice rides the luscious waves of the rich orchestrations here from producer Nick Patrick and his confident performance in songs like 'The Way You Look Tonight' and 'Get Happy' makes a worthy comparison. And its a level of quality and consistency that is maintained across the whole album.

Which turns out to be a bit of a blessing and a curse. Listening to the collection as a whole can stretch the patience a little as ultimately, there's too little variation in the delivery. A bombastic 'Every Time We Say Goodbye' to a strident 'My Funny Valentine', the treatment is unerringly similar and one is left wishing for a little more range. For when a rare moment of diversity pops up, as in the restrained take on Mario Lanza's standard 'Be My Love', the subtle colours in Ovenden's voice are just gorgeous.

The Annie Get Your Gun medley of 'They Say That Falling In Love' / 'I Got Lost In Her Arms' is another highlight and altogether, Be My Love is a strong album that ought to please many. It would just be lovely to hear him explore more of what his vocal range can cover.

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