Wednesday, February 20

Preview of Michael Ball’s New Album Both Sides Now

As soon as MICHAEL BALL finished playing the lead in the multi award winning musical Sweeney Todd last year he set up a new concert tour  which takes place in April and May and recorded his new solo album Both Sides Now which is due for release on 25th February.

The album features songs by some of his favourite artists including Joni Mitchell, Katie Melua and Dolly Parton, mixed with musical theatre standards and new songs by world famous composers. I was fortunate enough to be sent a five track sampler CD to review before it is released.  

The tracks I listened to were Both Sides Now was sung tenderly and with real emotion but I found his version a bit slow and drawn out compared to the original which I love. Joni Mitchell is Michael’s favourite singer/songwriter so it’s no surprise that he chose this as the title track which she wrote in 1967

The Perfect Song is a new number written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Leslie Bricusse which marks the first time they have ever worked together. It will be released as a single on March 18th. 

Michael describes how the song came about: “I was chatting to Andrew Lloyd Webber at a party and told him I was recording a new album and he said to me: ‘Actually Michael I’ve just written a new song with Leslie Bricusse and I think you should have it!  I was in Los Angeles last week for Leslie’s 82nd birthday and Michael Caine, who was there as well, asked Leslie and me if we’d ever written a song together.  We realised we hadn’t and thought it was a great idea! Andrew then told me that Leslie came up with the title ‘The Perfect Song’, and Andrew wrote the music in the back of a cab on the way home!  He then sent over the music to Leslie and Leslie wrote the lyrics.  It’s an absolutely beautiful song written by two of the finest songwriters in the world and I’m extremely proud to be premiering it on my new album.”

My think my expectations of this new song were probably very high but I’m afraid I felt disappointed.  The Perfect Song is very sweet, slow and melodic and it started to grow on me after I listened to it the second time, but to me musically it was nothing new and the lyrics were nothing special.

Next was Joan Armatrading’s Love and Affection which started very slowly but once the orchestrations kicked in and it got going Michael sang it beautifully.

The Katie Melua hit Closest Thing to Crazy was one of best renditions I have heard. Sung with real emotion.  Loved it!

And last but not least Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Changes Everything from Aspects of Love which Michael sings with Il Divo. It is the last track on the album and starts off very low key with Michael and orchestral backing then the "Divos" join in one at a time until it builds with them all singing.  Good thing is they do not try to out sing one another but combine perfectly to sing it as group plus one! Not my favourite song on the album but my favourite performance of the numbers I was asked to review. 

All of the tracks I listened to underlined Ball's vocal virtuosity and musical theatre voice with real feeling and emotion. The album is a well thought out and good mix of numbers.

The ones which I am looking forward to hearing are the new song Suddenly which Boublil, Schonberg & Kretzmer wrote for the LesMis movie which I think he will sing beautifully. Hugh Jackman sang this to Cosette in horse drawn carriage as he was whisking her away in from Thenardiers. But he acted and spoke it more than singing it so will be interested to hear what Michael makes of it.

Track number 13 is Fight The Fight which is a new song by Tim Rice & Stuart Brayson from the new musical From Here To Eternity which starts previews at the Shaftesbury Theatre at the end of September.  It was first recorded as a big production number but sounded wrong so has been pared right back to being very simple with guitar and strings and Michael harmonising with himself.

Also Adele’s Make You Feel My Love is a favourite of mine along with I Won’t Send Roses from Mack and Mabel.

The full track listing for Both Sides Now is:

1.    Both Sides Now (org. Joni Mitchell 1967)
2.    The Perfect Song (new song by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Leslie Bricusse)
3.    I Won’t Let You Go (James Morrison 2011)
4.    Closest Thing To Crazy (Mike Batt, hit for Katie Melua 2003)
5.    Love And Affection (Joan Armatrading 1976)
6.    Suddenly (new song  from ‘Les Misérables’ movie).
7.    I Will Always Love You ( from ‘The Bodyguard’)
8.    I Won’t Send Roses (Jerry Herman, ‘Mack and Mabel’)
9.    Run (org. Snow Patrol, 2007 / also hit for Leona Lewis, 2009)
10.  Love Don’t Live Here Anymore (Hit for Rose Royce 1978)
11.   Songbird (Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac 1977 recorded by Eva Cassidy 1996)
12.  When She Loved Me (Randy Newman, From ‘Toy Story 2’)
13.  Fight The Fight (Tim Rice & Stuart Braysonnew musical ‘From Here To Eternity’)
14.  Make You Feel My Love (org. Bob Dylan / also hit for Adele 2010)
15.  Love Changes Everything - Michael Ball and II Divo

You can pre-order Both Sides Now from Amazon before its release date on 25th February for  £9.99

I will certainly be buying it as the sampler I have listened to is more than enough to make me want to hear more!

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