A pair of album reviews from Phantoms past and present – Ramin Karimloo’s latest From Now On and new leading man Josh Piterman’s Josh Piterman
“Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?”
Ramin Karimloo’s recording career has always been an interesting one to track, as he oscillates between the musical theatre in which he has made quite the name and the musical influences that clearly lie closest to his heart. His latest full-length album From Now On encapsulates this perfectly right from the off, using his patented Broadgrass style to illuminate The Greatest Showman’s ‘From Now On’ to glorious effect.
The tracklisting sees him dabble in musicals old and new – he makes a good case for King George in an uplifting ‘You’ll Be Back’ from Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen’s ‘Waving Through a Window’ builds the already fever-pitch anticipation for its London opening. And they’re matched by a straightforward canter through Rent’s ‘What You Own’ and Hedwig’s achingly good ‘Wicked Little Town’ which balance his interpretative skill with his unmatched vocal strength.
The consequence of all that power means that I do sometimes a little more subtlety from Karimloo – I’d’ve taken The Last Five Years’ Moving Too Fast’ down a peg or two to make it a touch less rocky and though Frozen’s iconic ‘Let It Go’ begins promisingly, once it gets belted it doesn’t work half as well (I imagine it is great fun live though). It’s all a matter of personal taste though, as my highlight ends up being a beautifully stripped back take on The Bodyguard’s ‘I Will Always Love You’, much more Dolly than Whitney with its lush layers of harmonies and plucked strings. A most interesting collection.
Australian Josh Piterman took over the title role at Her Majesty’s Theatre last month and though he might not necessarily be the best known name over here, he has quite the CV, not least as a classical-crossover artist as part of The Ten Tenors. He’s also released a solo album – Josh Piterman – which very much focuses on that side of his repertoire rather than musical theatre.
So with The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra backing him with some lushly scored arrangements, the tracklisting covers a fair few of the usual suspects – ‘Hallelujah’, ‘Iris’, ‘Wicked Game’ – but adds a twist by translating some into Italian and Spanish. It’s an approach that works well in some cases, especially on John Farnham’s passionate ‘Burn For You’ but a little baffingly in others, I’m not sure what Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ gains in Italiano.
What is beyond question though is the beautiful tone of Piterman’s voice. Clarity and power shine through every soaring note – the longing of ‘Por Mil Años Más (A Thousand Years) sounds glorious here, there’s something thrilling about this operatic and orchestral ‘Falling Slowly’ (from Once), and the one guest appearance really feels like a case of saving the best to last as Lucy Maunder elevates an already powerful rendition of ‘Il Gladitore’.