The West End is notorious for both fostering and attracting big name talent to helm its shows. Without a doubt three of the brightest lights of the stage over the past 12 months are Amber Riley (Dreamgirls), Cassidy Janson (Beautiful) and Beverly Knight (The Bodyguard). Just in time for Christmas the three women have come together under the name Leading Ladies to release debut album Songs From the Stage.
Leading Ladies is a showcase for three of the biggest voices on the West End and it’s sure to make a superb present for any musical theatre lover. The song choices, while straying occasionally outside of the stage, are for the most part well-known and sure to hit the mark with the album’s target audience. Pop producer Brian Rawling (Cher, Tina Turner, Lionel Richie) has helmed the project so there’s a real professional polish on every one of these tracks.
The album opens with One Night Only, from Dreamgirls, which sees Riley, Janson and Knight all sharing lead vocals. Each of the women has very different voices with Janson the most typically musical theatre. Riley has a powerful voice with an R&B edge and Knight brings a more soul-infused pop sound. Not every song on the album features all three women, which may come as a disappointment to some.
Janson tackles solo moments on (You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman) and Don’t Rain on My Parade, Riley sings The Wind Beneath My Wings and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and Knight takes on I’m Every Woman and Love Will Stand When All Else Fails. They all sound great for the most part but Janson and Knight fall short of the original versions of Don’t Rain on My Parade and I’m Every Woman respectively.
The best moments on the album are when the three women come together. Seasons of Love from Rent features some really beautiful harmonies and Somebody to Love is a real powerhouse moment. Will You Love Me Tomorrow, which has a live acoustic feel, is the standout track on the record with all three women in perfect harmony.
Songs From the Stage will appeal to a certain audience and it has the ability to be a breakout success over the Christmas period. Sometimes the tracks on the album feel a little too obvious and they’ve been done to death by other singers but I guess they need familiar songs to sell records. What is clear that all three women are incredible singers and together they sound fantastic.
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Track list: 1. One Night Only 2. Seasons of Love 3. I’m Every Woman 4. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman 5. The Wind Beneath My Wings 6. Helpless 7. Memory 8. Somebody to Love 9. Falling Slowly 10. Love With Stand When All Else Fails 11. Raise the Roof 12. Will You Love Me Tomorrow 12. Don’t Rain on My Parade 13. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Record label: East West / Warner Release date: 17th November 2017