Album Remarks & Appraisals:
After the tremendous success of his first Decca album, Bring Him Home last year, critically acclaimed tenor and theater star, Alfie Boe, returns with release of his eagerly-awaited follow-up, Alfie. Alfie presents a collection of the most beautiful and timeless songs, sung just the way you want to hear them. Such romantic classics as the forever popular. When I Fall In Love, Leonard Bernstein' impassioned "Maria" from West Side Story and Ewan MacColl's heartfelt "fold song," "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." Having teamed up with good friend Matt Lucas for a duet on his first album, Alfie continues to surprise us with his unlikely, but perfect, pairing by being joined hereby one of his heroes, rock legend Robert Plant. After a chance meeting in a bar, the two singers were soon in a studio recording this extremely moving version of Tim Buckley's "Song To The Siren." Having been called "Boe, the Bad Boy of Opera", it was entirely fitting that Alfie should welcome Plant onto his new record, and, somewhat surprisingly, their voices blend beautifully against the delicate orchestration. They repeated this duet memorable this past November in a special performance Alfie Boe - Live in Concert from London's acclaimed Royal Festival Hall. The concert will be broadcast nationally on PBS stations this coming June. It is hard to believe that Alfie has had time to record a new album as he is still in the midst of his incredible at Empty Tables. "who better to duet with Alfie for this than this young start who placed Marius in last year's acclaimed concert version of Les Miserable also broadcast nationally of PBS stations and available from home video. Alfie's versatile voice takes us on a journey through the musicals, with the uplifting "Being Alive" from Stepehn Sonheim's Company, the all-time favorite "Music Of The Night" from Phantom of the Opera, George and Ira Gerswin's standard "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Wheels of a Dream" for the musical Rag time and of course Jean Valjjean's own Who Am I (I'm Jean Valjean!) from Les Mis. Alfie is made up of songs of genuine power and quality, a status that is only enhanced when interpreted by one the world's great voices. Some of these timeless classics are forever associated with their original interpreter so it is a tribute to Alfie Boe's artistry that the gives each one his own individual stamp. One imagines Alfie singing to his 3 year old daughter with the wistful "When You Wish Upon A Star" from the 1940 Disney classic Pinocchio. The album is rounded out by a reprise of Alfie's signature song, the stunningly beautiful "Bring Him Home" from Les Mis. With Alfie Boe's ringing tenor voice, the magic of the musical has never sounded more enchanting.
Personnel: Juliette Pochin, James Morgan (keyboards, programming).
Audio Mixers: Juliette Pochin; James Morgan.
Recording information: Ashmead Studios; Dean St Studios, London; DR Studios, Copenhagen; Smecky Soundstage, Prague.
Editors: Juliette Pochin; James Morgan.
Photographers: Colin Bell; Paul Marc Mitchell.
Having reached the U.K. Top Ten for the first time, performed for the English National Opera in La Boheme and The Mikado, and received rave reviews for his role as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, Blackpool tenor Alfie Boe rounds off an incredible year with his fifth studio album, simply titled Alfie. Proving that it's not just the musical theater and classical pop worlds that appreciate his talent, the follow-up to commercial breakthrough Bring Him Home also features a collaboration with none other than Robert Plant, who lends his yearning tones to a moving orchestral interpretation of Tim Buckley's acoustic folk song "Song to the Siren." It's a shame that Boe couldn't have persuaded the Led Zeppelin legend to stick around a little longer, as it's by far the most compelling offering on a record that -- apart from an emotive operatic reworking of Martina McBride's "In My Daughter's Eyes" -- plays it pretty safe. Alongside an understated acoustic version of Ewan MacColl's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," there's a suitably wintry take on Judy Garland's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," an impassioned adaptation of 17th century traditional English folk song "Over the Hills and Far Away," and a lushly produced rendition of Frank Sinatra's "It Was a Very Good Year." But elsewhere, Boe continues to delve into a more familiar catalog of show tunes, from Gershwin's Oh, Kay! jazz standard "Someone to Watch Over Me" to Ragtime's stirring choral-led "Wheels of a Dream" to the two numbers from Les Misérables, "Who Am I?" and "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," the latter a duet with Michael Ball (better known as a solo piece for the character of Marius). Alfie should consolidate Boe's position as one of the U.K. classical crossover scene's biggest talents, but by proving he's capable of tackling material outside the box, you do wish that he'd be a bit braver and pursue his more adventurous leanings a little further. ~ Jon O'Brien
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