KERRY ELLIS – Kerry Ellis, Soundcheck Records.
Kerry Ellis is perhaps one of Britain’s biggest theatrical celebrities of recent years after flying into our lives as the first British Elphaba in Stephen Schwartz’s musical Wicked. After starring in many musicals since, including the recent tour of Rent, as well are appearing in concerts all over the country, Kerry’s voice has become instantly recognisable. So it was inevitable, and much anticipated by her many fans, that a new recording was imminent.
The self titled album brings together a collection of songs from the stage and screen and offers new arrangements of some of musical theatre’s best known songs.
To open, we have perhaps the obvious choice of ‘Let it Go’ from Disney’s Frozen. This modern classic has taken the world by storm and as sung originally by Broadway’s original Elphaba, Idina Menzel, there does seem a symmetry in the choice. This for me is, without doubt, the highlight of the album. Not only does Craig Addams create a stunning orchestration, but Kerry sounds right at home filling her American counterpart’s shoes.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album doesn’t come close. There seems to be some strange choices including an Oliver double bill of ‘As Long As He Needs Me’ followed directly by ‘Who Will Buy’ by Lionel Bart. For such an overdone and some may say bland song as the first, Adams doesn’t bring anything new to the table and despite Kerry’s beautiful voice, there is nothing to set it apart from the many other renditions that are out there. However the latter is a stunning arrangement, as if Bart was done by Jason Robert Brown. Sadly ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ from Les Miserables, as butchered by many since Susan Boyle took the song to the masses, is another obvious choice which offers very little to separate it from the others.
One of the other highlights is Andrew Lloyd Webbers’ ‘Take That Look Off Your Face’ which provides a rise in the tempo but also gives us a touch of the rockier side of Kerry’s voice which is otherwise not showcased.
The final track is a duet with Joe McElderry but is yet again an overdone number, a cover of ‘I’ve Had The Time Of My Life’ from Dirty Dancing.
It goes without saying that Kerry’s voice and the recording are flawless throughout, her control over tone and colour is clearly from a musical theatre background but the tracks are somewhat underwhelming and leave you wanting a little more. A theatrically uneducated audience will like the familiarity of the numbers but anyone with a love of musical theatre, most of her fans, will, I fear, be left unsatisfied.
– – – – – – – – – –
Review by Dan Phillips