Reviewer: Holly Spanner
With two decades of experience in the musical theatre industry, this debut album from Richard Woodford has been long awaited. During his career, to date, he has been involved in 11 major productions and is now somewhat spoilt for choice when it comes to material. It includes a selection of tracks from shows he has performed in, as well as a few personal choices.
Because of You is a 12 track album of big songs requiring a big voice. Thankfully, Woodford delivers. On the face of it, the album bears all the hallmarks of a traditional musical theatre album; however, there are a few surprises that set it apart and the beautiful song choices are matched in quality by first rate vocals from both the tenorand guest vocalists. With arrangements by Lee Ormsby and Michael Webborn, this is an excellent album with a polished and professional feel to it. Moreover, it works as a whole.
The subtle but noticeable changes in the arrangements allow for a fresh dynamic to the classics: Music of the Night (Phantom of the Opera), Bring Him Home (Les Misérables) and Gethsemane (Jesus Christ Superstar), as well as the more contemporary ‘Til I Hear You SingfromLove Never Diesand Who I’d Be from Shrek the Musical.
One of the reasons this album works so well as a wholeis thanks in part, to the collaborations with other artists. There’s a light rock infusion with Under Pressure from We Will Rock You featuring Sabrina Aloueche; fiery and a real belter, she is possibly best known for her portrayal of the rebel Scaramouche. Made popular by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli, Woodford returns The Prayer to its Italian roots, in a simply gorgeous duet with Lauren James Ray, while Helen Power, who previously worked with Woodford on Whistle Down the Wind, features on Angels, Power beautifully capturing the innocence of youth.
We are spoilt with The New World from Songs for a New World, featuring not one, but three fantastic guest vocalists – Alice Fearn, Amanda Coutts and Mark McGee. Hopeful and determined, this is a real anthem for those embarking on a change.
In an album full of gems, it is difficult to pick a single highlight, however, Starlight Express, sung in German with Musical Supervisor Sarah de Tute on piano, comes pretty close. This rendition alone makes this a must-have album for any musical theatre collection.
No expense has been spared on the band, each track sounding ‘full’. There’s no doubt about it, you’re getting your money’s worth with this album. Because of You is a lovely collection of music, and a perfect present to give (or receive) this Christmas, not to mention a fine feather in SimG’s cap.
Richard Woodford: Because of You is available from SimG Productions