“Wave goodbye to cares of the day”
Alfie Boe has the dubious honour of being often referred to as Britain’s Favourite Tenor as one of the more successful of the classical crossover artists, but only really appeared on my radar with his contributions to the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Miserables at the O2 where he formed part of the Valjean Quartet that brought the house down with their rendition of ‘Bring Him Home’ as part of the encore. He will be taking on the role of Jean Valjean properly at the Queen’s Theatre from 23rd June, but he capitalised on that success by releasing this album, also named Bring Him Home, just a couple of months later.
The album is musical theatre heavy, yet Boe wears his operatic stylings heavily and I’m not sure how successful a marriage this really is. B’ring Him Home’ is predictably beautifully sung, but too often the showcasing of the ‘voice’ is at the expense of interpretation. So ‘Pure Imagination’ is robbed of any delicacy, On The Street Where You Live booms along and the sound is just too muscular and beefy to really do the material justice. Only on ‘Hushabye Mountain’ from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang does he rein in the power and find a beautiful subtlety to sing the tender lullaby.
There’s something of a playful look to the track-listing at first glance as Boe squeezes in not one but two songs better known for being sung by women in the shows to which they belong. Blood Brothers’ ‘Tell Me It’s Not True’ is the better of the two, standing up better to the treatment here as ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’ from Sunset Boulevard suffers from a lack of audible emotional engagement , there’s no sense of the fragile ego that lies behind the lyrics here.
As is de rigueur for musical theatre albums, there’s a couple of duets on here too. He manages the not inconsiderable feat of making Kerry Ellis seem subtle on Moulin Rouge’s ‘Come What May’ which is a nice version of an over-used song. And joining up with erstwhile Les Mis colleague Matt Lucas on ‘The Impossible Dream’ works well: in isolation I’d’ve probably liked it much more but it ends up lost in the mix a bit here, the orchestrations blurring too much into each other.
But by and large this was a disappointing cd, erring too close on the side of commercial caution than artistic interest. There’s nowhere near enough passion on display to justify the one note that is largely maintained here and the rather rigid template that is observed in Boe’s delivery of the material means that little of the variety in the songs is explored – it’s all very safe and in the mould of the title track. The rare moments when he departs from this, as in ‘Hushabye Mountain’ and also ‘Some Enchanted Evening’, hints at what an interesting record this could have been.