“Turn your bedroom into a nightclub”
Somewhat ironically, just last week I inferred that it’s a much more diverse prospect to collate a lyricist’s work, as opposed to to a composer, into a cohesive album whilst reviewing wordsmith Lesley Ross’ new CD. But turning to one of Ross’ musical collaborators on that disc – John-Victor – I’ve immediately been proven wrong with Shoot…Bang! This is new musical theatre writing as you’ve rarely heard it, genuinely original and fiercely contemporary and yes, hugely wide-ranging in its content.
Pulling together excerpts from four of his musicals in various stages of development (some with Perfect Pitch) War and Fleece and Barry the Penguin (a black and white Christmas) written with Lesley Ross, and Carla Cthulu and Chick with Paul Roberts, what instantly strikes you is the immediacy of the music. It’s club tunes, it’s pop songs, it’s radio hits, all fed through with an essential thread of musical theatre but emerging with the kind of freshness that is, well, so refreshing to hear. It is clear to see why pop bands have called him in to help co-write hits for them but the prospect of hearing this music in fully-fleshed out shows in theatres is a hugely exciting prospect for the future.
Whether the drama-filled opening of the title track, a strong vocal from Craig Webb navigating the shifts in tone well, or the driving musicality of Rosa O’Reilly’s ‘Rise’, there’s such tunefulness and memorable impact that it’s hard to resist the force of personality with which John-Victor imbues his compositions. For me, Dani Harrison’s contributions probably rank as my favourites – the regretful club banger ‘Drinks, Lights (Sex, Fights)’ has a brilliant energy, album closer ‘Cry’ demonstrates a softer but no less powerful touch with its powerful emotion and the duet ‘Breathe’ effortlessly blends vocal lines and pop sensibilities to create urgency and excitement. Watch out for this name, I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot from him in the future.