Reviewer: Ian Foster
Firmly ensconced in the rôle of Tommy DeVito in the London production of Jersey Boys, Jon Boydon released his debut album Three Four last year but though he’s coming from many years spent in the world of musical theatre, this collection of 13 songs could never be accused of being ‘stagey’. Instead, Boydon delves into the realms of modern rock, rhythm and blues, and the rock and roll that he delivers nightly at the Prince Edward Theatre to create an accomplished and accessible album that will appeal to a much wider audience of people than just those who are fans of rock.
The temptation with albums such as these is for the performer to stamp their mark on the material which can often lead to some dubious interpretations of classic songs but Boydon wisely resists this and demonstrates a crystal-clear sense of his own musicality which means his voice never sounds anything less than completely assured and still maintains a pleasing fidelity to the material. This is never bettered than on a wonderful version of Runaround Sue, making it sound deceptively easy and glorious fun to boot.
Dubious sexual politics aside, Poison Ivy is also good, as is a fun romp through another number from Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Love Potion No.9, but Boydon’s ventures into the bluesier side of things pays real dividends. He rattles through Otis Redding’s iconic Hard to Handle and bringing his own swaggering charisma to a cheeky version of Ray Charles’ Hallelujah I Love Her So that is irresistible. The sole piece of original material – Fallen Angel – written when he was at university is heartfelt and manages the not inconsiderable feat of blending in with the rest of the tracklisting.
And when it comes to the modern choices, there’s a canny mixture of styles that maintains interest. The stadium rock of Drops of Jupiter, the twangy charm of Truth, the earnest storytelling of She Talks To Angels, even the braggadocio of Are You Gonna Be My Girl, Boydon turns his hand to them all with a vocal confidence that makes this CD an unexpected pleasure to listen to. I would skip past the cover of Jet by Wings though, no-one can make that song sound good!