The Good: Amazing vocals, Some creative interpretations of songs
The Bad: Not all of the reinterpretations work, Short
The Basics: Colm Wilkinson’s Broadway And Beyond: The Concert Songs has the performer presenting songs that made him famous and his interpretations of some other songs that allow him to showcase his amazing voice.
My wife is a big fan of Colm Wilkinson. She loves Les Miserables (reviewed here!) and her favorite version of the cast had Wilkinson as Jean Valjean. So, when we discovered that Wilkinson had multiple albums out, my giftgiving for her got much easier very quickly! The first one of Wilkinson’s albums we picked up for her was Broadway And Beyond: The Concert Songs. I’ve listened to Broadway And Beyond: The Concert Songs over thirty times now and it is one of the few albums that did not grow on me by simple repetition.
Listening to albums over and over again, I have noticed that my tolerance gets worn down and I tend to rate higher albums I listen to on high repetition. Broadway And Beyond: The Concert Songs did not so much grow on me as much as I came to accept that some of the things I did not like about the album would have been strengths on other albums. Colm Wilkinson’s voice might not solve all problems, but his vocal quality goes a long way to alleviating some of the creative choices on Broadway And Beyond: The Concert Songs.
With seventeen tracks clocking out at an even hour, Broadway And Beyond: The Concert Songs is a showcase of the performing talents of vocalist Colm Wilkinson. Wilkinson is a powerful vocalist, but not a writer or instrumentalist, at least not on Broadway And Beyond: The Concert Songs. Wilkinson contributes a single arrangement to one of the traditional songs (“Whiskey In The Jar”) and the lead vocals on each and every track. If Broadway And Beyond: The Concert Songs, Colm Wilkinson remains a gifted performer, if not a stunning artist.
The seventeen tracks on Broadway And Beyond: The Concert Songs are a blend of traditional songs (“Danny Boy,” “Whiskey In The Jar”), Broadway standards (“Some Enchanted Evening,” “The Music Of The Night,” “Old Man River”), and pop standards like “Hallelujah” and “The Wind Beneath My Wings.” “The Wind Beneath My Wings” is a reinterpretation of the classic pop song. I refuse to call it a “radical reinterpretation” because I once heard a Reggae version of the song in the Bahamas and that was a radical reinterpretation. On Broadway And Beyond: The Concert Songs, Colm Wilkinson puts rests and pauses in at various points that change the tempo and emotion of the song. It did not wow me. But, the more times I listened to it, the more I realized that what I usually demand of other performers is that they make an effort to make a song their own and Wilkinson tries that; the result was just not as spectacular as I would have hoped. I admire the creativity, but was not impressed by the execution.
On the flip side, “Country Roads” is presented in a creative fashion that works by Colm Wilkinson. Broadway And Beyond: The Concert Songs devotes more time to pretty straightforward interpretations of songs, like “If Ever I Would Leave You” and “Bring Him Home” (though that is not my favorite Les Miserables song) . That Wilkinson presents “The House Of The Rising Sun,” which is so far outside of what one might expect of Wilkinson is daring and he makes it work. The songs on the album work better than Broadway And Beyond: The Concert Songs does as a cohesive album.
For those who have not heard Colm Wilkinson, his vocals are articulate and distinctive. He has impressive range from bass up to alto range and his ability to hold notes, as he does on “Bring Him Home,” is incredible. He also has a way of going guttural and low for a very primal sound, like on “The House Of The Rising Sun.”
Ultimately, Broadway And Beyond: The Concert Songs is a good album, but it is not incredible. Wilkinson presents very literal interpretations of Broadway standards and the creative interpretations of songs like “The Tennesee Waltz” and “Whiskey In The Jar,” making it more erratic than consistently incredible.
The best song is “Hallelujah” and the low point is “Anthem.”
For other vocal albums, please check out my reviews of:
Closer - Josh Groban
Celebrated - Ella Fitzgerald
21 - Adele
For other music reviews, please check out my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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