Album Review: Rachel Tucker – On The Road (Deluxe)

“Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?”

Proving that you don’t need to win the reality show that you’re in to set your career, and that it’s your talent that matters, Rachel Tucker’s success is testament to just how far hard work and a hella big voice can take. Headlining shows in the West End and Broadway, including playing Wicked’s Elphaba in both, 2017 has seen her play a series of dates on a UK tour with musical director Kris Rawlinson, which in turn produced an album – On The Road – which has recently been digitally released with some bonus tracks in a deluxe edition.

Reflecting the diversity of a live show, the record opens with a potency and confidence that could see her take her place among the Rat Pack as she swings confidently through classics like ‘Miss Otis Regrets (She’s Unable To Lunch Today)’ and ‘The Candyman’. New musical theatre gets a look in with the searching emotion of Dear Evan Hansen’s ‘Waving Through A Window’ and then the intensity is dialled down for a moment with Randy Newman’s heartbreaker ‘When She Loved Me’.

And it’s a sense of variety that never lets up, from a finger-clicking, easy listening take on Oliver!’s ‘Where Is Love?’ to the growling determination of ‘That’s Life’ on which she partners with the marvellous Rebecca Trehearn. It means that highlights are many and mixed – the controlled fury of ‘The Man That Got Away’ is spine-tingling as is, in a completely different way, the haunting acapella take on Irish air ‘She Moved Through The Fair’

Personally, the restraint with which she explores new writing like ‘Another Life’ from Jason Robert Brown’s adaptation of The Bridges of Madison County is where she shines strongest. And we’re blessed with two numbers from Sara Bareilles’ gorgeously plangent score to Waitress (does this count as Tucker’s audition for Jenna…?!). ‘You Matter To Me’ sees her duet nicely with a good, if slightly too polite Lee Mead but she soars on ‘She Used To Me Mine’, all its fragility and self-doubt conveyed with utter conviction.

Naturally, there’s a nod to Wicked in a heavily re-arranged take on ‘No Good Deed’ but it is the subsequent ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’, an astute bit of sequencing there, that lands with real heartfelt eloquence, rounding off an eclectic and entertaining collection (the less said about Ed Sheeran the better…). Rawlinson’s arrangements fit Tucker’s voice like a glove and the record has deservedly been nominated as one of CurtainUp’s solo albums of the year. You could do far worse than consider this as a stocking filler for the music fans in your life.

On The Road is available from iTunes here and is also on Spotify and Amazon Music

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