Friday 10 February 2012

Self Taught, Still Learning - Album Launch Review

This review was originally written for The Public Reviews

November 29 2011

On a chilly autumn morning, upstairs at Dress Circle in Covent Garden provided a warm venue to enjoy a selection of songs from “Self Taught, Still Learning”, the debut album from Chris Passey . In August 2011 this website conducted a ten minute interview with Chris whilst the album was in production, so it was a delight to enjoy the finished work performed live.

The performance started with Steven Webb singing “Room For Me”. It is a tribute to Passey that he has attracted the cream of young musical theatre talent to record his writing. Even though Webb did not feature on the album (where the song is performed by Richard Meek ) his performance was polished and beautifully rehearsed. The compact venue required no amplification so with simply Passey on keyboard and Jake Mason on cello, Webb took the arc of the song on a journey quite different from the recorded version. Where the recording has a choir providing an ethereal backing to the song, Webb was vocally on his own. His talent shone and he simply soared with a spine-tingling performance.

The album’s title derives from a line in the song “Three Tiny Words”, and with the versatile Tim Prottey-Jones on guitar, Allyson Ava Brown immersed herself in a delivery of that song that took its balladesque opening through to a middle-eight that had an almost rock-style exhilaration in her singing. Again, the unmiked intimacy of the performance gave her performance a real frisson.

Next up was Prottey-Jones singing the moving and tender tribute to a loved friend, now passed away, “If They Only Knew” ( recorded on the album by Kieran Brown ). Passey’s ability to describe passion, grief and longing in his writing, again brilliantly displayed in this number.

The fourth and final song of the morning was the upbeat 4-parter, “You Were Mine”, Passey singing with Zoe Rainey from the album, joined by Jeremy Legat and Amy Carroll.

Passey is donating all album profits to worthy causes. In a brief post-gig conversation, he described the most humbling and inspiring part of the album’s development being the generous donation of time and support from so many talented and accomplished performers – including Miranda Sings!

The album is a showcase of all that is good in today’s musical theatre – performance and writing. Buy it to support that talent – as well as the two worthy nominated charities.

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