A diverse trio of album reviews, featuring Anthony Ramos – The Good & The Bad, Aimie Atkinson – Step Inside Love and Jenna Lee-James – On The Edge
With credits that include the original Broadway cast of Hamilton, the most recent remake of A Star Is Born and Usnavi in the forthcoming screen adaptation of In The Heights, Anthony Ramos can officially be described as hot stuff. And of course he’s had time to write and release his debut album The Good & The Bad too, which emerges as a genre-hopping delight that draws on the melting pot of influences that is New York as much as it does his Puerto Rican heritage. A biographical concept album of sorts, Ramos’ tales of growing flow effortlessly whether through the r’n’b pop of stand-out ‘Mind Over Matter. the hip-hop-inspired storytelling of the title track or the gorgeously smooth balladry of ‘Isabella’ and ‘Figure It Out’.
There’s no lack of ambition on Aimie Atkinson’s 2016 album Step Inside Love as this engaging performer tackles a wide range of musical theatre material. She certainly hits all the marks on classics such as ‘On My Own’, ‘As Long As He Loves Me’ and ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ but funnily enough, it is her gorgeous take on Jekyll and Hyde’s ‘In His Eyes’ with Tricia Adele-Turner that really stands out. And it is nice to see her pay such tribute to the 60s-themed musicals that figured early in her career, Carnaby Street the Musical is well represented in that respect, with endearing skips through ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ and ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ impressing and making the album stand out from much similar MT output.
That choice of approach is certainly vital in engaging a listener. There’s no doubting Jenna Lee-James’ vocal prowess, just listen to her belt through pretty much any track on her album On The Edge (but particularly ‘Listen’. But the prevailing mood is one of MOR soft rock that saps too much passion from too many of the songs here. ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ should weigh heavy with emotion, ‘Tell Him’ (with Louise Dearman) should be packed with the drama but the arrangements here too often veer towards the inoffensive. Only the closing ‘Over The Rainbow’ really demonstrates Lee-James’ gift of interpreting a song and the skill she has in modulating the power in that voice.