Album Reviews: Jonathan Reid Gealt – Whatever I Want It To Be / This Ordinary Thursday / Among Friends – The Words and Music of Richard Kates

This trio of album reviews spans the decades with Jonathan Reid Gealt – Whatever I Want It To Be, This Ordinary Thursday and Among Friends – The Words and Music of Richard Kates

“Nothing worth doing will ever come easy”

There’s something irrepressibly catchy about the music of Jonathan Reid Gealt as evidenced on this album Whatever I Want It To Be. From the cracking one-two of the driving pop of the title track sung with exciting energy by Jane Monheit and Alysha Umphress and the swinging delights of Loren Allred, Natalie Weiss and Luke Edgemon on the adorable ‘Boy Crazy’ to the more restrained but no less deeply felt emotion of Joshua Henry on ‘Let Me Try’ or Laura Osnes on the shimmeringly lovely ‘Lullaby’, this is some top-notch songwriting.

Released in 2007, This Ordinary Thursday marked the debut collection of songs by the American composer-lyricist Georgia Stitt. Her work feels very much in the mould of new American musical theatre writing, complex often-piano-driven melodies worm their way into your mind and create their own world of mini-dramas. Cheyenne Jackson and Tituss Burgess impress on ‘She’, Faye Greenburg and Lauren Kennedy are good on the aching ‘I Lay My Armor Down’ and Carolee Carmello near steals the day with the delicate anguish of ‘Life Is Not A Camera’. Best though is the drama of Grey’s Anatomy’s Sara Ramirez ‘It Almost Felt Like Love’ which feels like an instant cabaret classic.

I don’t know if Richard Kates ever really fulfilled the promise of being “one of the future leading lights of the British musical theatre” but that’s not to say that his 1992 album Among Friends – The Words and Music of Richard Kates doesn’t have treats on it, not least a guestlist that sees the likes of Fenella Fielding and Su Polland rub shoulder pads with Bonnie Langford and Claire Moore. Moore’s soaring power ballad ‘Different Dreams’ feels like it should be Vanessa Williams’ next hit, Fielding’s ‘I Could Never Keep The Man’ is a nifty piece of character comedy and Langford’s ‘Claudine the Cruel’ is wonderfully daft.

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