In the four years since the release of his last album, Tim Prottey Jones has been pretty busy: he appeared as a finalist on the ITV show Superstar, understudied the role of Judas in the Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Tour, played Billy in the West End production of Once The Musical, and can currently be found at the Adelphi Theatre performing in the original London company of the smash hit musical, Kinky Boots. He’s been putting those song-writing skills to good use though even while concentrating his talents on his stage career, and this month released his third album, To Do. To Be.
The new album is a fifteen course feast of musical delight, featuring fifteen brand new songs taken from six original musical projects by Tim and co-writers Tori Allen-Martin, Nick Smithers, Angela Prottey-Jones, Martin Meehan, Darah Carville and Ali Harris. He’s also lined-up a cast of amazing guest artists from such West End shows as Wicked, Once, Miss Saigon, Kinky Boots, The Commitments, and more, to perform on the album.
Let’s start off by saying that this is an album that just gets better with every listening. The first time I played it, I liked it. The second time I really liked it. And the third time I really really liked it. One could wonder if Tim’s time in Once had any influence on him during the writing of this album, as the songs have a similarly raw, acoustic quality that makes them addictively listenable, and just like the show, the album is beautiful and far more powerful for its simplicity.
Original Once star, Zrinka Civitesic delivers a heartfelt performance in ‘I For One’, which is just one of several great tracks on there to benefit from their female vocalists. ‘I’ll Be With You Always’ (performed by Jacqueline Hughes) is another notable number, as is ‘Regret Me’, one of my favourite songs on the album and perfectly matched with the gorgeous voice of Ambra Coserotti. Laura Pitt-Pulford also gives everything to the song ‘Nothing’, to give the album the big finish it deserves. The boys certainly hold up their end though, and their songs are among some of the best on there. The second track on the album, ‘Sunshine’ (performed by Joe Tracini) is a great introduction to the male artists on there, and the distinctive voice of Cameron Sharp more than does justice to his number, ‘Have You Again’, which is another one of my favourites.
Newcomer among the boys is Andrew Bateup, who won the open competition Tim held to find a vocalist to record a song for the album. Anyone who raised a question about the ‘risk’ of having an unknown name perform can put their concerns to rest after hearing his track, ‘Blame It On Me’; a fantastic vocalist, his voice has a strong, clear quality to it that easily handles the song.
Tim certainly knows the power of a catchy chorus though and there are some up-tempo numbers to enjoy as well, including those by his Kinky Boots cast mates Amy Lennox (‘Have You Ever’) and Paul Ayres (‘Song of Sin’). There’s also a brilliant duet between Alistair Brammer and Emma Hatton on the catchy toe-tapper, ‘Keep You Distance’, and another by Evelyn Hoskins and Brian Gilligan, which is probably the track closest in tone to the ‘rockier’ sound of his last album. The best duet on there though has to be ‘Leaving For You’, which sees Tim himself performing with his former Once cast mate, Arthur Darvill. It’s probably the most authentic acoustic performance and simply sounds like two friends sitting down for a jamming session to play guitar and sing together, and for that, is easily one of the most listenable tracks on the album.
Tim features again on the album with his band, The Paper Hearts, performing their debut song ‘Robert Louis Stevenson’. It has a wonderfully mellow, country sound to it and the four voices of the band work together to great effect.
The hands-down, best song of the album has to be ‘Kiss ‘Til You Can’t Kiss Anymore’, sung by EastEnders actor and original Once star, Declan Bennett. His voice perfectly complements the song, which has a very ‘Once’-feel to it. Stripped-down and laid back, it’s a song to which you can lie down, close your eyes and just bask in.
It’s hard to pick a favourite though as there really are no bad songs on there. It is the perfect easy-listening album to relax at home to, perhaps with a loved one or in the company of a chilled glass of wine, and as a whole, really seems to display a love of music. The songs all follow a similar instrumental style, but equally, they each have their own unique sound and are able to stand alone, so there’s no fear of boredom in an album where all the tracks sound the same.
To Do. Create a world-class album. To Be. One of the best new musical theatre writers around today. I’d say Tim Prottey-Jones can check both off the list. The album features an array of incredible vocalists from established West End stars to lesser-known names, but that would mean nothing if they didn’t have such spectacular material to work with. After all, the best chefs in the world would be wasted in a McDonalds, but put them in a 5* restaurant and voila! They could create a masterpiece, and that is exactly what this album is. A masterpiece of new musical theatre writing.
To Do. To Be. is now available to buy on iTunes, and from online retailers Dress Circle and Amazon too.
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Wednesday 23rd September 2015