Classical < < < > > > Pop
Highlights: The Rose, Credere, Open Road, Always A Woman, All That I Need
When you read in the press package that two brothers sat down and recorded the whole album that sits in your hands in their own home, your first instinct is to shake your head in forlorn sympathy. With the commercialism of classical music on the rise, audiences have come to expect polished and wholesome production; what on earth can two young men come up with in the comfort of their own home? The answer is somewhat surprising. They have achieved arrangements, production and original songs that rivals artists signed to major record companies.
The frontman is blue-eyed and floppy haired tenor Thomas Spencer-Wortley who combines his theatre training with classical vocals with similar accessibility to Josh Groban. The man behind the scenes is his brother, Oliver Spencer-Wortley, a composer, arranger, producer and programmer who saves his brother from being caught in the 'just another crossover tenor' trap. Together, they are a force to be reckoned with and have the potential to pioneer standards in the classical crossover genre.
Three tracks from this album are the work of Oliver, all combining pop with a dash of classical arrangement. One of them, the leading single and title track 'Credere', is the strongest of the album thanks to its sophisticated piano arrangement and the soaring chorus which is reminiscent of Groban's big Italian album openers. 'Open Road' epitomises the combined theatre and classical vocal technique that Thomas adopts, whilst 'All That I Need' shows off the power he can produce.
Other notable tracks include pop covers 'The Rose' (originally performed by Bette Midler) and Billy Joel's entertaining 'Always A Woman'. Although 'The Rose' is a rather typical choice, it serves Thomas's soft, sultry and, at the songs climax, powerful, vocals well, whilst Oliver's talent as an arranger is well showcased providing the listener with one of the better renditions of the much recorded song. 'Always A Woman' is an unusual choice; actually, it's the first time I have seen it on a crossover album, but one listen of this rendition leaves you wondering why nobody thought of it before. It enables Thomas to perform with a more relaxed and natural vocal as he glides through it with warm gusto.
The album suffers only for its heavy Josh Groban influence, sharing five tracks in common with the American superstar, including Groban's self-penned 'Remember When It Rained' and his signature tune 'You Raise Me Up'. With only twelve tracks, nearly half the album will be a matter of déjà vu for Groban fans. With a lot of the marketing geared towards his fanbase, it is a bit odd to have so many songs by him when Groban fans will probably prefer their original hero performing them. That said, the rendition of David Foster's 'The Prayer' does manage to better Groban and Bocelli's rendition with the inclusion of pure voiced soprano, Mairead Carlin. Fortunately, the rest of the album is Groban-esque enough without using his material, which will please the target audience.
If the brothers stick together, Thomas Spencer-Wortley has every chance of breaking into the market and becoming, as his press package says the 'British Josh Groban'. He has the good looks, the talent, the connections and the determination to do it and his debut effort only strengthens this belief.
1. You Raise Me Up
2. Remember When It Rained
3. Un Giorno Per Noi
4. Ave Maria
5. The Rose
7. Broken Vow
8. Always A Woman
9. Open Road
10. All That I Need
11. The Prayer (with Mairead Carlin)
12. Because We Believe