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Music Review

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Words Shared With Friends


Music: Christopher J. Orton, Ben Messenger, Joe Sterling, Jonathan Eio, Filip von Uexkull, Tristan Bons, Omri Lahav, Dean Heller and Ty Kroll
Lyrics: Robert Gould (with Jimmy Granstrom, Joe Sterling and Allan Mooney)
Performed by: Will Barratt, Andrew Bateup, Kieran Brown, Jordan Lee Davies, Jonathan Eio, Sarah Galbraith, et al.
Label: Auburn Jam Music
RRP: £9.99
Release Date: 14 April 2014

It's a bit of a rarity to get an album of songs by just one lyricist. Apart from a couple of Tim Rice CDs, a Don Black one, and a few featuring the sublime lyrics of Richard Rodgers, I'm struggling to name many. Composer albums are every-day items - I've got a whole shelf dedicated to them - but the men (and ladies) who write the lyrics are very much neglected - both in respect and discography.

Step forward Robert Gould. Bob, in my mind, is a very under-rated lyricist. His musical theatre writing credits include Book and Lyrics for the epic Welsh historical musical My Land’s Shore, Grace Notes (a finalist in the Leicester Square Theatre New Musical Project) and After The Turn ( a musical with music by Tim Prottey-Jones which was staged at the Courtyard Theatre in 2012). It was with Tim's excellent two composer compilation albums that I first came across, and then later at the album launch, met Bob, and became interested in his work.

Regular readers may remember that I reviewed My Land's Shore when it was released a couple of years ago [2012], on the SimG label. It was an excellent listen, and I gave it 10/10 with the comment "it equals anything I've previously heard from any of the mainstream musical theatre composers". So I was eagerly awaiting the release of Words Shared With Friends, with high hopes and expectations.

As with Bob's previous releases, there's no shortage of bright, new talent on this recording - Will Barratt, Andrew Bateup, Kieran Brown, Jordan Lee Davies, Jonathan Eio, Sarah Galbraith, Carolyn Maitland, Shaun McCourt, Ceili O’Connor, Kit Orton, Laura Pitt-Pulford, Jos Slovick, Jodie Steele, Joe Sterling, Ben Stott, Rebecca Trehearn, Benjamin Vivian-Jones - all names we will come to hear more of in the future.

I'm pleased to say I enjoyed this album immensely. There's a very honest feel to all of the numbers, and all are delivered with a real belief in the music and lyrics. Which there should be, as there is some great stuff on here. I listened to the album three times on a long journey, and it kept my attention throughout. Sure, I didn't like all of the numbers, and a couple got 'skipped' on subsequent listened, but it's without a doubt one of the strongest albums I've heard for a long time.

Picking a favourite is something I don't like doing, but I will happily point you toward some of the tracks that are worthy of a first listen. Having a good opening track is vital on an album like this, and Bob starts with his strongest track - 'If I Close My Eyes' sung by Jordan Lee Davies. I worried when this track clicked on, as it weighs in at over 6 minutes. I needn't have. This track is glorious - a great mix of powerful lyrics, a great voice and catchy melody by Tristan Bons. The simplicity of the second track - 'Perfect', with music by Christopher J Orton and performed by Rebecca Trehearn - adds to its beauty. Sometimes a voice with a simple piano backing is all you need. And sometimes, the arrangement makes a song, as in the case of 'If We Dare To Love' and 'Forever'.

The album weighs in a well over an hour, which is great. I would have liked to have heard some of Tim Prottey-Jones' songs on here too, as he and Bob work so well together, and this may have meant we could have had a volume 1 & 2 of Words Shared With Friends. The production of the album is first rate, although it's only available as a download from Amazon and iTunes. Don't let that put you off though. It's a very professional album, and deserves an audience.


Ian Gude

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