“It will all be fine, somewhere down the line”
Songbook albums can be difficult beasts – composers can often find themselves caught between trying to compile a thematically coherent collection and demonstrating the breadth of their talent and it can be a difficult balance to find. Transatlantic writing duo Barry Anderson and Mark Petty, the catchily named Anderson & Petty, have erred towards the latter, not only showcasing not only a huge range of musical styles but a roster of performers from both sides of the ocean.
And what does connect the material on You Are Home – The Songs of Anderson and Petty is a genuine gift for effective songwriting, highlighted by some excellent matching of song and singer: Coleen Sexton’s ‘You Are Home’ brims with supreme confidence, a near-perfectly constructed piece matched with a flawless vocal; Gina Beck’s crystalline soprano on the verge of shattering due to the emotionally devastating ‘Forever Child’; Autumn Hurlbert carrying ‘Superman’ from its hushed beginnings to a wonderfully strident climax.
The collection is ballad heavy but Anderson & Petty do layer in influences from a wide range of musical styles – gospel, country, power pop – and with such a diversity of performers, there’s never a dull moment. Frances Ruffelle glistens in the string-laden ‘We Stand Together’, Cynthia Erivo brings a gorgeous quavering fragility to the emotional surprises in ‘Suddenly’ and Matthew Barrow’s yearning voice suits ‘Only Me’ down to the ground.
The upbeat ‘Love Will Find Its Way’ is huge amounts of fun in Lucia Spina’s capable hands, the stirring ‘River Slow Down’ makes for a powerful finale as a choir elevates Debbie Kurup to somewhere very special and as something of a disarming coda, bonus track ‘Stand Up’ makes a late bid for the gay clubs, Sophia Ragavelas making an effective dancefloor diva. Available to download now at Amazon and iTunes, this is undoubtedly an excellent collection of songs, indicative of intriguing and interesting talent, and should make their concert at the St James’ Studio in March well worth a visit.