“There’s still music in the air…”
As Long As I Have Music – the songs of Rob Eyles & Robert Gould is a new album showcasing the new musical theatre writing partnership of composer Eyles and lyricist Gould. Gould has been a prolific writer for some time now, as evidenced on his last CD Words Shared With Friends and whilst Eyles may be a newer composer, the pair have clearly found a rich vein of collaboration. The album features songs from two Eyles & Gould musicals – Stiles + Drewe Award finalist A Pebble for Aaron and The Wonderful Musician, a new musical-in-development based on the Grimm Brothers Fairy Tale, with a smattering of other songs too to complete the collection.
The brace of songs from The Wonderful Musician are both strong – Joe Sterling capturing a beautiful sense of optimistic innocence in the title track and Michael Riseley and Kayleigh McKnight soaring on ‘Perfect Companion’. But it’s the trio of tunes from A Pebble for Aaron that stand out. Kieran Brown’s reflective ‘The Flowers Have Faded’, the raw anger of Keith Ramsay’s ‘I Want You To See You’ and the aching pain of Shaun McCourt’s ‘Losing Him’ are point towards a richly emotional and poignant musical that is touching even in these brief excerpts here. The marriage of longing melody and lyrical meaning works superbly well here.
The diversity of Hywel Dowsell’s arrangements, supplemented by all kinds of musical mastery from Joe Davison at Auburn Jam Music, comes through most on the individual songs. The driving trio of ‘No More’ opens the album with smartly contemporary ennui (is this the first time the word antediluvian has been used in a song?!); Rob Houchen’s ‘Dreams’ and Lauren Ingrams’ ‘Postcards’ both exemplify Eyles & Gould’s beautiful way with a tender ballad; and ‘A Christmas Eve Song’ and ‘Disney Style Romance’ both switch things up in ways that have to be listened to to truly experience, even if these songs lack a little of the same lyrical subtlety.
But as a taste of what hopefully is to come, As Long As I Have Music certainly whets the appetite as far as Eyles & Gould’s output in concerned. I’m intrigued by what The Wonderful Musician might become; I’m very interested in seeing A Pebble for Aaron in its entirety; what more can you ask for from a showcase of your work. An appealing collection of tunes from a composing duo who have the potential to do very well indeed.