One is naturally inclined to think of the Stephen Sondheim revue Marry Me A Little, in which an entire narrative was shaped out of various songs that may have belonged to another musical (or not) at some point but were cobbled together to form a separate show. Listening to the various musical styles, tempos and ranges in this album, there’s a reminder of quite how long it can take for a full musical to get from storyboard to stage, as well as a (slightly surprising) acceptance that it may well be that one or two or more songs in this collection may never feature in a full-scale production.
That isn’t, I hasten to add, because any of the songs are terrible – though I fully accept other listeners may beg to differ. It becomes necessary (at least for me) to simply enjoy the songs for what they are, without reading too deeply into them. The liner notes provide some background details but some of the numbers could be applicable to various situations with perhaps only minor tweaks to the lyrics. Hearing previously unreleased material also, particularly on a first listen, left me wondering how the song would pan out. For instance, when James Gillan in ‘Alphabet Soup’ starts singing “A is for…”, is the song going to go on for another twenty-five verses? (Spoiler alert: No.) Listening to the songs in order, it’s as good as any album designed to be listened to in its original order would be. ‘I Say We Fight’ could well be applied to an adaptation of almost anything involving the taking up of arms for a noble cause. Just the title of another song, ‘At The Crossroads’, meanwhile, sounds like the overarching theme for a leader article in The Economist positioning Britain at the crossroads as it grapples with the socio-economic effects of both That Virus and That Referendum – as it is, it’s a personal dilemma facing Annalene Beechey’s character. I wasn’t sure how the character aimed to resolve her crisis, but then perhaps that is the song’s point: life is full of imponderables in which each decision has positives and downfalls.
Not every song is as deep and meaningful. ‘All Men Are Bastards’ comes across as an outpouring of anger laced with dark humour, without any suggestions as to what could be done to improve the apparent current state of affairs. It almost has its male equivalent in ‘That Kind of Day’, in which Ben Stock’s character experiences ‘Sod’s Law’ in miscellaneous ways. I could envisage both songs in the same show, with a female character feeling very let down by a man who in turn has been unable to deliver on his promises due to unforeseen circumstances.
‘Big Cheddar’ is somewhat dastardly but also a lot of fun, and this isn’t the only song in which a character doesn’t take themselves too seriously. ‘Caught In The Rain’ involves some significant vocal gymnastics – Lauren Samuels glides through it all seemingly effortlessly. Overall, a pleasant and charming collection.
Review by Chris Omaweng
1. Alphabet Soup – James Gillan
2. Nothing To Be Done – Chloe Hart
3. All Men Are Bastards – Wendi Peters
4. How Foolish Of Me – Danny Colligan
5. I Say We Fight – Stephen Weller
6. At The Crossroads – Annalene Beechey
7. Caught In The Rain – Lauren Samuels
8. Big Cheddar – Joel Montague
9. Second Base – Lorna Want
10. Gloucester Road – Molly Lynch
11. That Kind Of Day – Ben Stock
12. Heaven’s Plan’s A Mystery – Daniel Boys
Album produced by ANDREW FISHER
Mixed by DANNY MONK and ANDREW FISHER
Mastered by DANNY MONK
Produced for SimG Records by SIMON GREIFF
Original Artwork by JONATHAN EDWARDS
CD design & Art Direction by SIMON BEECHEY
@SimGProductions (record label)
The Andrew Fisher Songbook is the fourth Andrew Fisher project produced and released by SimG Records, past acclaimed recordings include ‘Girl In A Crisis’, ‘The Little Fox’ and ‘Gabriel’.
Physical CDs for The Andrew Fisher Songbook are available to order now from www.SimGProductions.com, and will also be available digitally on the official release date, Friday 21st May 2021.