(Right Track Records)
Your scribe does not watch TV ‘talent’ shows. Mainly because the acts become secondary to the self-promotion of the show hosts/’judges’/ principal figures. So I first became aware of Paul Potts when his albums came through the letterbox – as I was able to explain to him in person a few weeks ago. In his sphere, Potts brings the power of interpretation and in a conversation that we shall bring to you he gives the full lowdown on his artistic approach. In essence, he cares about his work. He has an easy warmth and keen sense of humour, clear in his vision but sanguine about his musical journey.
This fifth album is not ‘live’ – the title refers to the origins of the material he chooses to include, in that the songs are from operas and stage productions. Paul will only take on compositions he feels he can put something into, a sage move in that he will tour the set in many territories. From a platform of comfort, Potts can put his all into the programme.
The Impossible Dream is the only number that anyone remembers from Man Of La Mancha. Last year we heard Jack Jones cruise through it at Cadogan Hall, with first-class diction. Potts takes a similar line and as the orchestration patters away he lets his voice ride the composition. Kismet produced Stranger In Paradise. It’s a lovely melody, airy and passionate and here the arrangement is a tad stealthy with the vocal surfing over the strings.
Bring Him Home emanates from Les Miserables, not a favourite here at Sargeant Acres. It is surely for non-fans the Guantanamo Bay of musicals. Paul sings with economy, letting the tune through and sustaining phrases and notes with taste. We were at the Boe/Jenkins version of Carousel and of course one of the standout songs is If I Loved You. A simple melody, but with a crisp dynamic that can be stressed without histrionics. The arrangement here is sprightly and the singing really takes you there. A standout cut on this set.
The song I hate the most in the World is Send In The Clowns and I did talk to Paul about it. Here he plays it straight, no flared nostrils, just the tune delivered. Love Changes Everything comes from Aspects Of Love and a muted bravura intro brings the vocal in. Potts can of course take an almost stilted European melody and make it work. The arrangement whilst not exciting is colourful and appropriate, adding to the listenability of the track. Key change and all.
Til I Hear You Sing featured in Love Never Dies is here stately and calming. He does this sort of tempo really well, never launching into unnecessary fireworks but just caressing the tune. Maybe the best performance here. Mit Gewitter Und Sturm is from The Flying Dutchman – how I recall the atmospheric film of that, starring James Mason! – a beautiful arrangement sets the scene and Potts delivers a heartfelt performance, holding the notes with style. It’s a fine interlude amongst the West End favourites. Recondita Armonia is taken from Tosca and Paul has this stuff in the bag, again though with no trace or melodrama ; E Lucevan le Stelle is also from Tosca and the warm strings are a mellow delight. At 1,40 the measured vocal starts and it is exquisite.
South Pacific is for me R&H’s finest achievement and Some Enchanted Evening is a glorious ballad, uplifting in its cadences and crammed with subtleties. Potts puts in a lively performance, enhancing the magical lyric. It’s like hearing it for the first time. Potts is joined on Tonight by Christina Johniton.and the West Side Story number is handled tenderly and tunefully. No Yankee inflections, thank heavens. It’s a good pairing and I’d like to hear them tackle something like California Dreaming. Also from that musical comes Somewhere, forever burned into my psyche by P J Proby – ‘there’s …a…place for OSSS !’ – Potts takes the number in a much steadier fashion, letting the melody dominate and levitate here and there.
Camelot remains a tad underrated as a musical and If Ever I Would Leave You is beguiling in its progression, begging for restraint and a conversational approach. The orchestra is at its most full-blooded at the track’s commencement. Potts almost speaks the lyric, savouring every word. The set is rounded off by a much-requested tune – Nessun Dorma. Everyone seems to love this cathartic piece and Potts has the pipes.
If you like these songs and want to hear them sung with the accent on clarity and a gentle strength, this album need to be on your Christmas wishlist. The accompaniment whilst traditional sounds perfect and the collection attains what it sets out to deliver.
Many thanks to Sam and to Paul (any thoughts on that Tarja album ?…)
Paul Potts’s new album ‘On Stage’ is out now on Right Track Records
For more information visit his official website here: http://bit.ly/2AyY9Jn