“I’m on your magical mystery ride”
Recorded during her Feinstein’s/54 Below residency last year, Lea Salonga’s live album Blurred Lines is a sometimes surprising but always classy affair indeed. Effortlessly mixing standards with contemporary pop songs, devising interesting new song pairings and encapsulating her varied stage career in medleys, this was clearly a very well put-together show and thankfully, much of its magic has translated onto disc.
Accompanied by Jack Cavari on guitar and musical director Lawrence Yurman on piano, there’s a real beauty in just luxuriating in Salonga’s interpretation of her material. She’s a singer in full control of every aspect and colour of her voice and that comes across in the gorgeous restraint and considered intelligence of her readings. She can riff like the bolshiest of Broadway divas but knows full well that she doesn’t need to.
So its the delicate beauty of The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’ that catches the attention, the spine-tingling lower register that makes ‘A Song For You’ really sparkle. An impassioned version of One Direction’s ‘Story Of My Life’ is beautifully sincere (yes, really!), and a gently strummed arrangement of ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’ is so laidback as to be horizontal. The cumulative effect is one of someone having real fun and it is impossible not to get swept along with her.
Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ sees her cutting loose to sultry effect, that Greatest Hits medley is a testament to the breadth of her trailblazing career, but it’s the elegance of her phrasing in songs like John Legend’s ‘All Of Me’ that really take the breath away. And it is this diversity in the song selection that you end up really appreciating, especially from someone who could have so easily fallen back on Disney and blockbuster musical hits. A beautiful album to treasure.