“Why do whores only sing in musicals?”
Showcasing the work of a lyricist is a different prospect from that of a composer, something that is immediately apparent from glancing at the cover and booklet of Love, Lies & Lyrics – The Words of Lesley Ross, the latest new musical theatre CD emerge from the nurturing cocoon of SimG Records. This album features music from 4 different writers, taken from over a dozen musicals, with the now customary array of West End stars – over 30 in number here – so it can’t help but be highly eclectic as a collection, in something of a similar vein to Robert Gould’s collection from last year.
The diversity of this approach certainly has its benefits, especially as man of the songs are around the 2 minute mark, as it means the album can bounce around wryly comic observation songs like ‘Pick A Ticket!’ and ‘Him in 23B’ to the more heartfelt but still story-led balladry of Nigel Richards’ ‘And In My Heart’ and Annalene Beechey’s ‘Song for Someone’. If I had to pick, Madalena Alberto’s plaintive lullaby ‘I Will Be There’ is the highlight of the record – its gorgeously delicate emotion coming from a perfect confection of lyric, music and performance.
There’s also something nice about being able to linger a little longer with some of the musicals and get more of a sense of their personalities. The two tracks from Matthew Brind’s Before The Wedding do just that, Sarah Earnshaw and Sarah Lark pair up brilliantly on ‘Somewhere’ and Kieran Brown’s impassioned run through ‘Harry’s Dream’ capture much of the emotional rollercoaster of forthcoming nuptials. And across three songs late on, we get to explore some of the dark comedy, and just plain darkness, of prostitutes’ lives in James Williams’ Shreds.
The record can feel a little restless during some of the more random leaps from footballers to polar bears, penguins to drag queens, but they do serve to show the breadth of Ross’ writing – his credits do stretch from Theatres Royal in Plymouth and York and the National Theatre – and this collection is a snapshot of a career so far of which he can rightfully be proud.