WE ALL WANT THE SAME – Nadim Naaman, Auburn Jam Music.
There seems to be a surge of late in musical theatre actors taking the plunge and releasing a solo album. This always strikes me as a costly and brave move, as there is no guarantee of recuperation or commercial success, and sales rely heavily on the support of the fans that the artist has acquired over the years.
Nadim Naaman is braver than most, opting to create an album that is solely his own original material. Putting his heart out there for all to hear must be a daunting if exhilarating prospect; no longer are we observing him embody the emotions of a love-sick Count (Phantom of the Opera) or a troubled Russian chess player (Chess), instead we get a glimpse into his own soul. If you’re expecting a traditional musical theatre album, then look elsewhere, because Naaman’s album is a rather eclectic mix of pop, rock and jazz.
Track 1 on the album is, happily, an upbeat number called ‘Do My Best’ that is the perfect introduction. Very catchy and probably the most ‘pop’ of all the tracks, that will stick in your head. The sentiment is straight-forward without being prosaic, reminding us that whilst mistakes are a part of life, we can always find strength and optimism to carry on and strive to be the best version of ourselves. We get to hear Naaman’s higher range here, and the uplifting message presents his positive outlook on life.
The next few tracks are slower paced, with Sail Away almost hypnotising in its gentle jazz style, and ‘Not With You’ is heavily guitar-based, which at times hints at Spanish influences. ‘The Man That I Could Be’ has a nice message behind it, but it doesn’t seem to really go anywhere, lacking connection. This temporary lull however is blown out of the water by ‘Amazed’, that genuinely brought some very unexpected tears to my eyes. Clearly written about a person very close to his heart, you can hear the passion and the love is almost tangible in his vocals. Lyrically, Naaman excels here, truly touching the heart. Similarly, ‘July 7th’ shows the same raw emotion and achieves a pleasing mix of soft and soothing vocals, with a powerful belt near the end.
Naaman features two duets on this album, one with his previous Phantom cast mate Will Barratt, and another with Siubhan Harrison who will soon appear in From Here to Eternity. ‘You Know Better’ with Barratt is one of my personal favourites because it’s the only song on the album that stands alone in its rather grand and epic feel; very heavy on the strings and wouldn’t be out of place in a show like Phantom.
This recording full of heart and soul: With these traits, you can’t go far wrong. As with any album, some songs stand out more than others. However, I’d be surprised if ‘Amazed’ didn’t melt the hardest heart. The upbeat tracks are much needed to keep the balance and prevent it from becoming too intense, however the messages behind all the tracks are overwhelmingly positive. I always recommend supporting original material and new writing, but when it’s of this quality, I’d go so far as to demand it.
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Review by Caroline Cronin
Release date: 23rd August 2013
Hear a preview of We All Want The Same