Album Review: Hayden Tee – Face to Face

A varied song selection means that Hayden Tee’s new album Face to Face should appeal to a wide range of musical theatre fans

“In a world of wondering, suddenly you know”

Fresh off a year in the sensible shoes of Miss Trunchbull in Matilda, New Zealand actor and singer Hayden Tee celebrates the world of musical theatre – and his path within it – with the intriguing new album Face to Face. Arranged by Nigel Ubrihien and assisted by the lushness of by a symphony orchestra, this collection covers Kander & Ebb to Jason Robert Brown and much more inbetween.

At just 9 tracks long, I might have had a touch of initial disappointment that there’s some heavily familiar material here. Les Misérables is represented twice with ‘Stars’ and ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’, and the ubiquitous ‘Till I Hear You Sing’ from Love Never Dies. All are sung most competently, the controlled power at the top of Tee’s range is certainly impressive but on an entirely selfish note, I’m just tired of hearing these songs.

Much more interesting (to me) is the selections that come from lesser-known works or the songs that don’t get covered quite so often. So it’s great to hear him revisit Miss Trunchbull on the striking ‘The Smell of Rebellion’ which shows off the elasticity of his voice brilliantly. So too the hymn-like sincerity of Floyd Collins’ ‘How Glory Goes’ shows so much more interesting vocal colouring than the big booming numbers.

That said, I do have a soft spot for the duet with John Owen-Jones on ‘Lily’s Eyes’ from The Secret Garden, which shows off both voices in all their richly-textured power. And as his first album devoted entirely to musical theatre which has been three years in the making, there’s clearly deeply personal choices here, for all the material, and that comes through in Tee’s performance across the whole record. 

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