Wednesday 27 June 2012

The Journey Home - Mark Evans - CD Review


The Journey Home is Mark Evans’ debut English album and features songs that are of importance and significance to this already established star of the West End.

The album is beautifully arranged and produced, and the underlying message of the songs selected suggest a young man, who whilst clearly at ease with his name being up in lights in major London shows, is also grounded and humble enough to respect his native Welsh origins and culture.

The album’s title is drawn from the Bombay Dreams number that Evans performs. A R Rahman’s melody, that starts off hauntingly before evolving into an explosion of harmonies is the one song that comes closest to displaying the extent of the range, versatility, and above all power of Evan’s voice. The lyrics, whilst not perhaps Don Black’s best, do nonetheless translate well across the globe. Where they were once originally written to reflect the colourful complexities of the Sub-Continent, with Evans modern delivery they just as effectively suggest a young Welshman returning to his birthplace.

Evans includes two versions of the song Brand New You from Jason Robert Brown’s 13. One of the recordings is fully backed with singers and full jazz funk band sound, the other is simply Evans solo with acoustic backing. The comparison and contrast is delightful, and with the composer shortly to direct the show’s West End debut, the inclusion of this song is also a delightful coincidence. It is also a brave choice of song, given that whilst Brown penned it for a young-teen voice, Evans performs it with credibility and passion.

Two of the recordings see Evans duet with accomplished friends . With Ashleigh Gray he delivers an upbeat rendering of Alive, and touchingly, with Siobhan Dillon, with whom he currently co-stars in Ghost, a delicate performance of Unchained Melody that evokes in its tenderness the professional closeness and respect that these two individuals have clearly developed for each other.

The album above all is a delightful selection of songs that are important to Evans, and confirms him as a leading talent of his generation. Predominantly the choice of songs is a reflective selection and if there is one observation, it is the album could perhaps have been made a little more exciting with an inclusion of one or two songs that would have allowed the singer to vocally swoop and soar. The album’s geographical heritage suggests a nod to John Owen Jones who is some years Evans’s senior and represents possibly a pinnacle of musical theatre achievement. The voice of Mark Evans however suggests that he too is already a fine tenor, and that the Welsh contribution to leading West End performances is in safe hands.


This review was originally written for The Public Reviews

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