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Music Review

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When Love is Gone


Artist: Meredith Braun
Label: Stage Door Records
RRP: £7.99
STAGE 9053
5 055122 190530
Release Date: 10 November 2017

Some albums come and go, and despite listening to them over and over for a review, I never really think of them again, let alone listen to them. It’s a hazard of the job I guess. However, some come along and make a real impression. I have a huge CD collection, but I have probably less than 50 that I call ‘my cds’ - ones I turn to over and over, and ones that are simply unique, or have meaning for me. Stage Door now have two in that line up - both by the same artist. No mean feat.

Five years following the release of Meredith Braun's critically acclaimed debut album Someone Else's Story, Meredith returns with her new solo album, When Love Is Gone. The title for the release comes from the Paul Williams song Meredith performed in the iconic film The Muppet Christmas Carol, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Meredith's new 2017 recording of 'When Love Is Gone' marks the first time she has performed the song since recording the original version for the 1992 film soundtrack.

'When Love Is Gone' takes the form of a narrative song cycle, based around both specially selected material and original songs. The material featured ranges from musical theatre to singer-songwriter ballads, brought together by Meredith's own self-penned and elegantly crafted musical arrangements. Written and recorded between November 2016 and July 2017, the album highlights Braun's musicality, not just as a performer but also as a musician and writer as she embraces a wide range of musical styles and genres across the recording. Meredith is accompanied on the cello by her son, 13 year-old Tiger Braun-White, a student at the Royal Academy of Music and holder of both the Leverhulme and ABRSM scholarships.

Songs featured include a heart-rending interpretation of Stephen Sondheim's 'With So Little To Be Sure Of', a rare and unique cover of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'There's Me' (from the original production of Starlight Express, arr. James McConnel) Barry Manilow's evocatively tragic composition 'Sandra' and the premiere studio recording of Agnetha Faltskog's powerful and passionate solo ABBA song 'I'm Still Alive'. New material is represented by two compositions written by Meredith ('Hold Me' and 'Everything That's Me') and 'The Rules', a hauntingly dramatic original song written especially for the album by musical theatre writers Stephen Keelingand Shaun McKenna.

I always find picking songs out of a song cycle difficult. It’s a little easier here, as of course the majority of the numbers included in the cycle had life before this, and still do. I adored ‘With So Little To Be Sure Of’ which really pushes the singer vocally, but Meredith copes with apparent ease. It was great to hear one of my favourite Barry Manilow numbers ‘Sandra’ featured - a song that it’s rare enough to hear Barry perform these days, let alone anyone else. The first time I’ve heard it sung by anyone else - and I loved it. The songs composed for the album are also extremely accomplished, especially ‘Everything That’s Me’. And I can’t go without mentioning ‘Old Friend’, a number I adore and I wasn’t disappointed here, and ‘When Love It Gone’ that is as magical here as it was all those years ago.

Possibly my favourite vocal album release of the year and another sure-fire winner from Stage Door. This album is a must listen - many times over.


Ian Gude

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