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Highlights: Hoppipolla, Canto Della Terra
Jonathan Ansell is one of the better singers to come out of Simon Cowell television, having been discovered in the first ever series of The X-Factor in the UK with his band G4. So far, Ansell is the only band member to have successfully broken into a solo career. This was obviously always going to be the case, as Ansell's high tenor voice has always been distinctive and advanced for his age, especially compared to his fellow bandmates.
With such a crystal clear and stunning voice, one has to wonder why his producer (Grant Mitchell) has thrown in arrangements that are overly complicated and are most irritatingly loud. You cannot hear Ansell's vocals in their full glory, instead, your ears are enduring a lot of hard work trying to hear him over the music. Such is the downfall of this potentially excellent album. Why is 'Oh Holy Night' not an acapella? Why are the wind instruments louder than Ansell? Bizarre creative choices, or just bad production I cannot tell. The balance of volume between Ansell and the music is a running issue throughout the whole album.
The tracklist is not particularly original - it's rather disappointing in fact, with only one original song, 'Hearts of England', composed by British composer Patrick Hawes (better known for his stunning Blue Bird Variations and his 'Quanta Qualia' piece). 'Hoppipolla', though not original, is definitely a first for a classical crossover artist; it sounds wonderful, and is perhaps the only song where Ansell's quiet vocals make sense, as they are layered to great effect. Ansell does manage to do the worn out tracks justice, particularly Andrea Bocelli's 'Canto Della Terra' and Freddie Mercury's 'Who Wants To Live Forever'. 'Libiamo' is an inspired choice to demonstrate the ever growing maturity of Ansell's voice, whilst 'Aranjuez' allows a more emotional performance.
Ansell's performance has matured, but his raw, higher sound from his X-Factor days seem all but absent, which is what made him stand out in the first place. And to repeat the main complaint, we cannot hear Ansell's growing voice in any great detail due to the orchestra consistently drowning him out. In short, this album is not a good showcase for Ansell's vocal ability and should be taken with a pinch of salt. Buy concert tickets and hear him live, or simply wait and pray that they'll turn up his mic for his next recording.
1. Who Wants To Live Forever
3. If You're Not the One
4. Amor Ti Vieta
7. Canto Della Terra
8. E Lucevan Le Stelle
9. Nessun Dorma
10. Panis Angelicus
11. Hearts of England
12. Oh Holy Night