Michael Ball and Alfie Boe get back together for Back Together, their third album as a duo, which I ultimately find hard to resist
“The more you refuse to hear my voice
The louder I will sing”
First they were Together, then they were Together Again and now they’re Back Together – there’s no separating Michael Ball and Alfie Boe as their double act has become an extraordinary success, managing that all-too-rare-nowadays feat of actually selling albums.
And you can see why, especially in a spell-binding trio of musical theatre classics early on. The unexpected harmonies speckled throughout ‘Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again’, the delicate interplay in Fiddler’s ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ and the always rousing ‘Circle Of Life’ (with the assistance of Shaun Escoffrey) all imbue the familiar material with real interest, making the case for Ball & Boe as more than just your average crooners cranking out a new album. And the inclusion of a Pasek & Paul song is predictably de rigueur for a 2019 release, even if neither man quite has the suppleness of voice or diction to really get away with the energy of ‘The Greatest Show’.
A medley of Queen songs (‘The Show Must Go On’, ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’ and ‘Friends Will Be Friends’) allows them to bust out their best booming voices in the most appropriate way (as opposed to the way in which ‘Something Inside So Strong’ suffers from the lack of subtlety or vocal colour in that boom). But the pivot into the world of easy listening for the second half of the collection makes it a touch less interesting when all is said and done.
There’s an element of the predictable in some of the song choices. Does the world need another faithful version of ‘Come Fly With Me’ or ‘My Way’ – neither badly sung at all but neither particularly striking. The same happens as we go through Everly Brothers songs and Gene Pitney and Marc Almond duets but then suddenly, ‘Army’ happens. A song about which I know nothing, it is a thing of tender gorgeousness and the kind of track destined to receive the full lighters in the air treatment in the arenas that this pair will be touring in 2020. Altogether, I’m kinda glad they’re back together…