“Am I wishing for too much?”
Stuart Matthew Price, currently to be found in the ensemble of Shrek The Musical, has long carried the (potentially) dubious honour of being named one of the brightest upcoming stars of British musical theatre since wowing people in Parade at the Donmar Warehouse in 2007 and since then has been quietly carving out an interesting career, more often than not choosing to highlight lesser-known musical theatre writing. And so too does he do here on his debut album, All Things in Time featuring a selection of the cream of new musical theatre writing, including himself as he is a composer as well as performer.
Dougal Irvine’s beautifully relaxed ‘The Touch of Love’ was a surprising highlight for me: I’d usually plump for piano arrangements every time but Irvine’s light touch (ba-dum) works wonders here to make this a great track. And followed by Laurence Mark Wythe’s Goodnight Kiss, the album really does come off as a fabulous showcase for interesting writing: both of these songs standing up excellently individually, but also suggesting interesting musicals that might accompany them. Likewise, Stiles & Drewe’s ‘Wishing For The Normal’, a characterful duet with Caissie Levy, and Grant Olding’s ‘Midnight Will Happen Without Us’ are other great signs of the health of new British musical writing.
There are two Jason Robert Brown collaborations, the title track being my preferred of the two; a gorgeous string-laden arrangement elevates Sonnet XXIX to a thing of real delicate beauty; and there’s a gorgeous Scott Alan duet with Louise Dearman. ‘Run Away With Me’ marks the only time I felt there was a slight mis-step with the song selection. Brian Lowdermilk and Kait Kerrigan’s American road-trip-heavy lyrics don’t sit too well with Price’s delivery here which is just too British. And if I’m honest, ‘Angels’ is a pretty dull song, especially for a duet, not saved either by him or Annalene Beechey.
As an album, All Things In Time is a great success in both showcasing contemporary musical theatre writing at its best and highlighting what a fantastic interpretative gift Price has. It isn’t a perfect CD, there’s a moment or two where it sags a little if you listen to it straight through, but the better songs on here, and there are many of them, make this a definitely recommended purchase.