Alfie - Alfie Boe
1 CD(s) - Easy Listening - Label: Decca - Distributor: Universal Music - Released: 31/10/2011 - 602527773766
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Review of "Alfie - Alfie Boe"
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This 2011 release by Alfie Boe is the tenor's fifth album. Boe is an actor and singer who first came to my attention when I saw him perform as Jean Valjean in the amazing musical 'Les Miserables'. This album contains fifteen tracks from stage and screen. Fans who know Boe from 'Les Mis' may be pleased to discover a couple of tracks from the show and one special performance which includes a guest appearance from original 'Les Mi' cast member Michael Ball.Boe has a beautiful voice which is very distinctive. He is British but his accent is so taut and phonetically correct that he can sound rather old fashioned. As a seasoned actor he is used to interpreting the lyrics of any song and he emotes so well. His voice is like sweet, soft honey on the slower tracks but can sound quite rigidi on the more upbeat tracks. His voice has a mature tone which is commanding and reassuring,
The fifteen tracks on this album are an interesting mix. There are several from well known musicals but other more obscure tracks which I was surprised to find. The most curious of these is probably Tim Buckley's 'Song To The Siren' which features Robert Plant. The two singers have completely different styles so it's an interesting and unusual duo. Plant's contribution actually makes the song sound more mainstream whilst Boe's sections are routed in a classical style. The overall effect is we have this exquisite blend of tender, honest voices which finally merge into one towards the end of the track.The tracks from 'Les Miserable' are 'Who Am I?' which is perhaps an unusual choice but Boe has covered other tracks from the musical on other albums. This is a shorter track at only 2:51 seconds and it seems as though it's partially spoken at the beginning due to the arrangement. Boe excels at playing the part of Valjean and the crescendo at the end of the track is stunning. The other song is the rather maudlin but beautiful 'Empty Chairs At Empty Tables'. Michael Ball sings this song with Boe and Ball's voice actually sounds barely unchanged from when he originally performed this as a much younger man. Ball's sweet and tender voice, with a touch of vulnerability, is perhaps more suited to this track but Boe's voice can best express the drama of the lyrics. The two men together sound sensational.
Another well known musical theatre track, this time from 'West Side Story' is 'Maria', a strong and sweeping dedication to love and passion. I have heard many singers attempt this track and this is a fantastic version. It's incredibly touching and Boes' performance feels very earnest.'When I Fall in Love' is a beautiful version, stylized like the Nat King Cole version with Boe actually seeming to mimic the singer. There seems to be some attempt to soften Boe's pronunciation to keep the song sounding gentle and warm. The track sounds like a classic old love song and it's very beautiful and soothing.
'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face' is rather understated and so gentle that it sounds like a lullaby. It's testament to Boe's singing ability that he performs this with such restraint yet still manages to infuse it with light and life.'Someone To Watch Over Me' is a pleasant blend of soft jazz swing and classical string orchestra. Boe sings this with gusto and intent, infusing the lyrics with meaning so that every aspect of the story in the song is communicated and understood immediately.
'Over The Hills and Far Away' is a rousing track with the musicians on the track having as much input as the singer. Fantastic violin and cello work goes into this track.'It Was A Very Good Year' is a good track but against Sinatra's version perhaps lacks a little character.
'When You Wish upon A Star' has a magical quality and adopts the spirit and style of 1940's and 1950's versions of the track. It's very sweet and heart-warming.I'm not sure what month this album was released but as well as the potentially Christmasy song 'When You Wish Upon A Star' we get 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' which is the final track on the album. I'm pleased the track comes at the end of the album as it's something I don't want to hear at other times of the year and can just switch this off before the track kicks in! However, as a Christmas track this is really lovely. Boe's voice seems particularly rich and pleasing.
Overall this is a great album which takes me on an emotional journey. It's moving, enjoyable and vocally stunning. If you've ever heard Boe perform and enjoyed it then this album is for you. If you are a fan of 'Les Miserable' then this is also for you. It's a fine collection of the type of tracks you want to hear Boe sing and also has some surprises in the mix.The album features the work of the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and the Danish National Chamber Orchestra as well as memorable guest performances by Robert Plant and Michael Ball. Overall it's a very impressive performance by one of the UK's most talented performers.
Product Information : Alfie - Alfie Boe
Manufacturer's product description1 CD(s) - Easy Listening - Label: Decca - Distributor: Universal Music - Released: 31/10/2011 - 602527773766
Listed on Ciao since: 02/11/2011