Reviewer: Holly Spanner
How refreshing it is when a much loved musical theatre actress releases an album with exciting original writing. With the exception of George Maguire who features twice on the album, all the tracks are written by a different composer. This does not however result in a mix-mash of styles, rather a contemporary and idyllic blend of complementary songs.
Rush of Life is Julie Atherton’s third studio album, following on from No Space for Air in 2010 and A Girl of Few Words in 2006. Perhaps best known for her work in musical theatre, Atherton has starred in Avenue Q, LIFT, Through the Door, Sister Act: The Musical and The Opinion Makers among others.
It’s all about the kind of pride that,
Comes from being satisfied
With the world you made
And live inside
The album comprises eight tracks and showcases writing from George Maguire, Dougal Irvine, Lance Horne and Craig Adams. Kicking off with Maguire’s pop duet ‘Trail of Behavior’ with John Dagleish (Sunny Afternoon), there is a hint of the ethereal as the song evolves and blossoms. Maguire’s other track ‘Your Body’, which he also duets on, is similarly catchy and features some beautiful acoustic guitar (Ryan Haberfield) as the song considers the loneliness which comes from being in love, without being melancholy.
‘Planet Me’ by Dougal Irvine is a powerful, poppy song with themes of hope and resilience. Starting slow, calm and relaxed, it rises to a full crescendo, exuding positivity with its beautiful lyrics and soaring score. Electric guitar abounds on Lance Horne’s impressive rock track ‘My Own’, which would feel at home at the top of the charts, while ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’, originally written for Bonnie Raitt in 1991, is emotive and simple arrangements allow the words to take precedent in this moving cri-de-coeur.
The title track ‘Rush of Life’ by Craig Adams (composer and lyricist of LIFT) is a real gem. Its fast pace echoes the confident and affirming lyrics, while the pleading ‘Say Something’ – previously recorded by American pop duo A Great Big World – is sung with heartbreaking sensitivity.
I thought you killed me, consumed every little thing I had
I was ready to go.
But something in me just refuses to lie down dead
I will rise, I will grow.
Rush of Life is not your standard West End offering. Easy listening with superb arrangements and soaring vocals, there is an undeniable pop/ rock vibe to this album. A beautiful collection of songs, it is a treat to hear new writing presented with strength and elegance.
Rush of Life is available to buy from Theatre Bench