“When the playbill’s gone and your ego’s died, how you gonna feel”
I’m of course naturally inclined towards composing duo Dan & Laura Curtis as the quote that is proudly blazoned across their website is one of mine. It came from my review of their collection Love on 42nd Street which was a pocket-sized treat which stands in real contrast to Overture – The Music of Daniel and Laura Curtis, which brings together well over 20 Broadway and West End stars to fill a double-album’s worth of new material.
And their grandly orchestral ambition (not for nothing is the album called Overture) is well realised here. Divided into two ‘acts’, the pair stretch their songwriting muscle over a range of genres and subject matters but they’re most comfortable, and effective, when turning their hand to stirring string-laden balladry. The simple elegance of Rachel John’s ‘I Won’t Let You Go’ epitomises this beautifully with its soaring grace, surely a cabaret standard in the making.
In fact, the second half of the album does feel like the stronger. Will Swenson’s ‘Stand’ is power-ballad perfection, Matt Doyle delivers an impassioned vocal on ‘Playing Games’ and Charlotte Jaconelli and Jai McDowall combine well on ‘Sunshine’. There’s variation too – Emmanuel Kojo’s ‘Keep Dancing On’ ups the bpm to a funkier level and Ashleigh Gray is highly characterful in ‘Brave’, taken from the Curtis’ musical treatment for the animated film of the same name,
Taken as a whole, the double-album is perhaps a little over-extended but the artistic direction behind it, in providing a musical and thematic link, is a worthy one and justifies the format. And even if you’re one for curating your own playlists, there’s plenty here to whet the appetite.