“Things will never be the same”
Broadgrass. No, I’m not announcing the title of Series 2 of Broadchurch, but rather discovering that there is a new genre of music on the scene. It’s what you get when you cross Broadway and Bluegrass apparently and though it may seem a strange combination, it proves oddly winning on Ramin Karimloo’s EP The Road To Find Out East. It is unclear whether anyone apart from Karimloo currently falls into this unlikely intersection but on the evidence of these four songs, he’ll be a tough act to follow.
The EP, to be released by Big Hand Recordings on 7th April, is the first in a series of four – North, South and West will follow – is split evenly between musical theatre songs and new tracks, composed with Hadley Fraser, himself no stranger to London’s musical theatre stages. So we get a marvelously taut version of Oklahoma!’s ‘Oh What A Beautiful Morning’ which replaces any hint of thigh-slapping theatricality with a convincing sense of integrity. And ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’ from Les Misérables similarly benefits from a new countrified arrangement.
But The Road To Find Out shines best on the original songs. Karimloo’s vocal sounds so at home in these numbers, more relaxed and engaging for its restraint, plus he and Fraser are genuinely exciting songwriters. ‘Losing’ is a stirring end-of-the-road ballad, practically a duet, but it is ‘Broken’ that excited me the most. Its foot-tapping beginnings lead into an instantly memorable chorus and a total earworm of a ‘woooah’ section that ought to garner the track serious radio play. And then there’s a hoedown before the end, just brilliant. Bring on the next direction!