“Is this the place I’ve been dreaming of”
I can’t remember exactly how it came to be playing but I remember very clearly when and where I was the first time I heard Laura Michelle Kelly’s version of Keane’s ‘Somewhere Only We Know’, a rare moment where I stopped everything I was doing to soak in a moment of musical magic. I’ve never seen her onstage and as this was back in the day of normal amounts of theatregoing, I bought her CD The Storm Inside unaware of her theatrical credentials.
And you wouldn’t know them from her song choices either. The Storm Inside is by no means a musical theatre album but rather a collection of songs – half covers, half originals (3 from her own pen) – marking out a separate musical identity, a little bit indie-pop, a little bit light jazz and a fair bit swirling balladry. Lush instrumentations set the tone for much of the album, ‘There Was A Time’ winds its fascinating way to a delicate conclusion, Paul Weller’s ‘You Do Something To Me’ becomes velvety and really rather sexy though the Cardigans’ ‘Communication’ gets an epic transformation which is a little too X-Factor, the acoustic version (also available) is much better. Nick Drake’s ‘Riverman’ also receives an unexpected makeover to become a prettier and more hopeful number, purists may baulk but it really does work.
The Jamie Cullum-penned ‘Sweet Solution’ feels closest to musical theatre, Kelly adopting a slinky persona against the finger-clicking beat and with a breathy Reach Out adds a different texture to the album, but not one I particularly enjoyed too much, especially when an odd twist is imposed on Sondheim’s ‘Losing My Mind’. ‘The Storm Inside’, one of the self-penned tracks, is just lovely though, interesting pop at its best and then followed by the utterly gorgeous ‘Somewhere Only We Know’. I can’t believe it hasn’t become more widely used in adverts, TV shows and films (or maybe it has and they passed me by) but it is just one of my favourite cover versions of a song ever: tenderly sung and full of beautiful vocalisations, it refocuses attention on the beautiful lyrics and ends the disc perfectly.
Albums like these, especially when you are a fan of that person, are sometimes a bit variable as they are generally dependent on you also being a fan of the type of music that the singer likes, as opposed to the music that you know them best for. There’s enough of an overlap here to make this album I have kept on my iTunes, but one which I tend to listen to cherrypick songs from rather than listening to in its entirety. Still, when it is good, it is excellent.