Album Review: SONGS FROM THE STAGE by Leading Ladies

With its rich sound, lush arrangements and full orchestral backing, SONGS FROM THE STAGE by Leading Ladies is a musical treat like no other

When Amber Riley, Beverley Knight and Cassidy Janson first announced they were collaborating on a new studio album, the theatre world went into a frenzy. The celebrated queens of musical theatre are more than capable of releasing a killer album in their own right but join them together and you have a musical treat like no other.

SONGS FROM THE STAGE sees Riley, Knight and Janson tackle 14 songs from stage musicals including DREAMGIRLS, THE BODYGUARD, HAMILTON, CATS, FUNNY GIRL and many more. Produced by Grammy Award-winning British producer Brian Rawling, who has worked with chart-topping artists such as Cher, Tina Turner and Lionel Richie, the album boasts a rich sound with lush arrangements and full orchestral backing befitting of performers of this quality.

Opening with ONE NIGHT ONLY from DREAMGIRLS, the musical that cemented Amber Riley’s reputation as a theatre star, the album kicks off in style with all three ladies featuring on lead vocals and adding their own unique style to the disco track.

The popular SEASONS OF LOVE from RENT follows with Riley, Knight and Janson joining together at the start of the track to perform as a trio, adding a new dimension to the track. While the vocals sound a little thin in parts and the synthesised backing vocals may not be to everyone’s taste, the track picks up when Cassidy Janson takes over vocally, delivering an impressive solo packed full of power and style.

As expected from an album with three leading ladies at the helm, it isn’t long before Riley, Knight and Janson take on a few of numbers on their own. Beverley Knight takes the lead on I’M EVERY WOMAN from THE BODYGUARD, once again proving herself more than capable of taking on the Whitney Houston classic and the feel-good dancefloor-filler with power and personality.
Cassidy Janson also shows how she earned her two-year stint playing Carole King in the award-winning musical BEAUTIFUL with a stunning performance of YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE A NATURAL WOMAN. Janson’s country-tinged vocals lend a different dimension to the track whilst staying true to the King and Gerry Goffin’s original.

Amber Riley shines above Knight and Janson in FALLING SLOWLY from ONCE, her soft sweet vocals suiting the track perfectly, while all three ladies once again come together for WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW, the slower, pared-back arrangement allowing their vocal harmony to truly shine through on this Goffin and King classic.

Amongst the classics are a couple of weaker tracks including THE WIND BENEATH MY WINGS from BEACHES which sounds neither original nor powerful, and the Latin number RAISE THE ROOF from THE WILD PARTY which acts as a bit of an album filler.

That said, the upbeat RnB number HELPESS from musical HAMILTON provides some light relief from the power ballads and LOVE WILL STAND WHEN ALL ELSE FALLS from MEMPHIS also stands out thanks to Knight’s powerhouse performance.

The energy is back on a high for the fabulous DON’T RAIN ON MY PARADE from FUNNY GIRL with Janson delivering a stellar performance and the closing HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS from MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS which arrives just in time for the festive season.

Thanks to its stunning arrangements, high quality production and sheer vocal quality, SONGS FROM THE STAGE rises above its peers. The leading ladies have chosen a good selection of recognisable numbers to give the album wider appeal and enough variety to keep the interest from the first to the last track.

If you’re looking for a stocking filler for the musical theatre fan in your life, look no further than SONGS FROM THE STAGE.

4.5 out of 5 stars

SONGS FROM THE STAGE* by Leading Ladies will be released on 17 November 2017 through East West Records (Warner).

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