Album Review: Helen Power – Enraptured

“There is joy in the air
So be gone with dull care”
 
What to do to make your album stand out in a crowded marketplace of musical theatre-related albums? Get Auburn Jam’s Joe Davison in to do your arrangements, that’s what. A glimpse at the tracklisting of Helen Power’s new album Enraptured may not initially suggest a great adventurousness but on first listen, its playful and subtly daring nature soon become apparent.
 
A relaxed take on Porgy & Bess’ Summertime is a strong opener, full of bold musicality and Power’s confident soprano, but it’s the next of couple of tracks that set out the vision here. A Latin-inflected ‘The Sound Of Music’ has no right to be effective but as Davison introduces silky bossanova rhythms and elastic double-bass lines, it’s impossible to resist its easygoing charm. And if less radical, his Bond-esque re-arrangement of the title track from The Phantom Of The Opera is no less exciting, its duelling brass section and violins building to a breathless climax that thrills just as much as Power’s soaring top E.

As a crossover soprano and actor-musician (she plays several brass instruments on this record), Power straddles the worlds of easy listening and musical theatre and it is a balance that comes across perfectly on this record. Classical influences such as Giulio Caccini’s ‘Ave Maria’ and ‘Whisper Of Angels’, based on the timeless majesty of Fauré’s Pavane, rub shoulders with West Side Story (in a beautiful piano and cello version of ‘One Hand, One Heart’ with current Aladdin Matthew Croke) and Salad Days (a twinklingly beautiful skip through ‘The Time of My Life’) and through the innate musicality of the arrangements, they both work as well as the other.
 
I particularly loved the interpretation of ABBA’s ‘Thank You For the Music’, arranged by Kris Rawlinson from a concept by Power, which swings and sways through a light jazz treatment with Andrews Sisters-esque harmonies but the biggest treat for musical theatre lovers is a Howard Goodall exclusive, the track ‘More Than Rapture’ from A Winter’s Tale (in which Power starred as Ekaterina at the Landor in 2012). With featured vocals by Jamie Read, it’s a typically gorgeous melody from Goodall and beautifully orchestrated and makes me long for a revival of that musical. In the meantime, you could do a lot worse than buy this album as a stocking filler for a loved one or even for a treat for yourself!
 

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