A NEW WORLD
Classical < < < > > > Pop
Highlights: Into the West, Over the Hills, Going Home, If
Cute looking Will Martin caused a stir in homeland New Zealand. When UCJ whisked him off to the UK, it was expected of him to enjoy the same level of success as fellow kiwi Hayley Westenra, or even as much as Katherine Jenkins. This expectation is obvious in this slick and beautifully arranged album (the well respected City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra feature throughout). Martin is also given established artists David Garrett and All Angels to perform with. Add Simon Fowler as the albums artwork photographer and you have the prime example of a product that UCJ expect to sell by the bucket load.
Although A New World did reach the top position in the UK Classical Charts (and let's be honest, you need not sell many copies to top that chart), he didn't receive any hype, and his brief time at the top went relatively unnoticed, especially as he didn't make the top twenty in the main charts (Westenra's debut effort reached number seven). Perhaps this is a good reflection of the album's quality, as A New World is nowhere near the standard or Pure, but it's still a worthwhile album. Martin has a breathtaking voice; it has a mature texture, warm tone and he has outstanding diction. Although he doesn't have the widest vocal range in the world, he can certainly select the right material for his voice.
This album has a strong start with 'Into the West' (originally sung by contralto Annie Lennox for the third installment of The Lord of the Rings). It's a difficult song that certainly does not suit every voice, but Martin is quite in his element here, offering an alternative interpretation to Lennox's doom and gloom. 'Over the Hills' has another optimistic turn from Martin and he sounds as if he is positively beaming throughout the highlight track 'Going Home'. A tired adapation of Antonín Dvořák's 9th Symphony (better known as the New World Symphony), Martin manages to breath new life into 'Going Home' with his youthful innocence, complemented by the stunning arrangement and performance from the accompanying orchestra. 'If' is another strong track that brings the mood of the album down a notch with Martin's melancholic interpretation.
Although the start of the album is the strongest, the rest certainly does not lose steam, largely thanks to Martin's soothing tones and the rich orchestral arrangements. The song choices however, despite the expert treatment of all, are not particularly inspired in the first place. Better and less predictable songs would have really escalated this album into something extraordinary, but sadly, the album's material does nothing to help Martin establish himself in a market that is already swamped by similar artists. A New World, therefore is simply an average crossover album despite its glossy production and execution. Martin is a fine performer, but he perhaps needs to mature artistically to stand out among his contemporaries.
1. Into the West
2.Over the Hills
3. Going Home
5. The Last Rose of Summer
6. Se - Cinema Paradiso (with David Garrett)
7. So Far Away
8. Song of Peace
9. Nature Boy
10. Anytime Anywhere (with All Angels)
11. I Am My Country
12. Hine E Hine