“I just had to read it to you”
One of the more unexpected, but pleasingly enduring, creative unions of recent years has been the musical pairing of Kerry Ellis and Brian May. From 2010 when May produced Ellis’ debut album Anthems, the pair have cultivated their own “anthemic-orchestral-rock-musical-theatre fusion” which has seen them tour extensively and successfully in the UK and Europe, though their partnership actually dates back over 13 years. New album Golden Days sees them producing together, and writing together, recording other songs that they’ve been performing live and choosing yet others to put their spin on.
I’m not quite sure what “retro-psychedelic” means but there’s no doubting how lovely album opener ‘Love In A Rainbow’ is, a gentle wash of chilled melody and harmony, written by the pair, and the title track continues this mellow vibe in appealing style. There’s a slight sense that there might have been a tiny lack of inspiration when it comes to some of their song titles with the likes of ‘It’s Gonna Be All Right (The Panic Attack Song)’ and ‘The Kissing Me Song’ popping up on the track-listing and if the latter feels a little repetitive, the former is a sprightly bit of pop indeed.
On a rockier tip, John Barry’s ‘Born Free’ and Ruth Moody’s ‘One Voice’ both aspire to the inspiration anthem side of things and do their job with Ellis in full voice and May’s arrangements at full throttle. And there’s a tribute to Gary Moore with a new version of ‘Parisienne Walkways’ which I found surprisingly enjoyable (this not really being my genre and this being a completely new song to me). That said, no amount of rock bona fides can excuse the call and response in the middle of self-penned ‘Roll With You’ which verges on the naff.
The new arrangement of ‘Amazing Grace’ is pleasant enough but no matter how heartfelt the performance, it’s hard to get too excited by the presence of the oft-recorded standard. More gripping is the electric glitterball camp which with I (Who Have Nothing) has been imbued and the perfect Scandi-pop of Benny and Björn’s ‘Story Of A Heart’. And happily for a singer known to love a belt, wonderfully restrained takes on ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ and Carousel’s ‘If I Loved You’ show off just how tenderly beautiful Ellis’ voice can be. Golden Days is testament to the depth of May and Ellis’ relationship, full of a real chemistry that can’t be faked, and musically varied enough to please even those who aren’t too sure about electric guitars.