There are many albums floating around which feature the songs of new musical theatre writers and the lyrics of Robert Gould are included on several of them, but now for the first time his work is exclusively featured on one CD with the release of Words Shared With Friends. The album showcases a varied collection of songs which are the result of collaborations between Gould and international composers from five different countries: Israel, the Neverlands, Sweden, the USA and the UK.
The 16 tracks on the album, which is released on the Auburn Jam Music label, cover a diverse mix of musical styles which encompasses musical theatre, pop and rock. A number of them have been taken from some of the shows Gould has worked on while others stand alone, but all have been recorded by a talented line-up of professional musical theatre stars mostly comprised of performers who have graced the West End stage.
Sentimental ballads make up the majority of this album, which is introduced by the pleasant tones of Jordan Lee Davies in the opening number ‘If I Close My Eyes’. Rebecca Trehearn delivers two of the most impressive vocal performances on the album and is particularly delightful in ‘Perfect’, which features the music of British composer Christopher J. Orton. Accompanied by Orton on the piano, it’s a beautiful ballads and one which is made all the more so for its simplicity.
It’s the male soloists who really shine here though, with Will Barratt giving a stand-out performance in ‘Jaded’, which is one of the best tracks on the album and comes from another British composer, Ben Messenger. The other offering of his which features here, ‘Here It Comes Again’, is another winner, made even better by Ben Stott who puts across the emotions of the song perfectly. Swedish composer Filip von Uexkull’s ‘A Whisper In The Dark’ is an engaging number which benefits from the rich, melodic sounds of Kieran Brown, while another of Christopher J. Orton’s musical contributions ‘You’re Everything I Never Knew I Always Wanted’ is a charming little number which features his own distinctive voice.
Orton also wrote the music for ‘I Can’t Lose You’, which is a new song from he and Gould’s brilliant Welsh musical My Land’s Shore. The duets are one of the most appealing aspects of this album and this one, performed by Orton and Sarah Galbraith, may just be the pick of the bunch. ‘If I Could Change My Life’ and ‘More Stars Than In Heaven’ also make a worthy addition to the track list, as does the male duet ‘If We Dare To Love’ which is performed by Shaun McCourt and Benjamin Vivian-Jones. These voices of these two strong vocalists work well together to make this a noteworthy offering.
While ballads dominate the scene, there are some more upbeat songs which serve to raise the fun factor. Joe Sterling is a wonderful example of this. A talented songwriter in his own right, he gives the album a much-needed lift with his performance of the pop number ‘Reasons’ which is taken from the musical Roundabout .
While there are no bad songs on the album, not every number stands up against the standard of high quality material featured here. ‘The Blanket Of My Love’ and ‘For The First Time’ are probably two of the weaker tracks, the first slightly overdoing the sentimentality while the other fails to grab hold of the listener’s attention enough to keep it.
Robert Gould is a talented lyricist who has produced an array of memorable songs through his collaborations with various composers over the years, which has led to the creation of this must-have album. His words have inspired composers from all around the world and spoken to the numerous stars of the West End/Off West End stage who have sung them, and now they can bring hours of pleasure to listeners of the album. Words Shared With Friends is a proverbial treasure chest of musical delights, filled with a wonderful collection of songs which any musical theatre lover will appreciate.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Words Shared With Friends is available to buy on iTunes and Amazon from 14th April 2014.
Friday 11th April 2014