Classical < < < > > > Pop
Highlights: She Moved Through the Fair, How Can I Keep From Singing, I Can't Help Falling In Love, Rule the World (Il Mondo E Nostro)
It's often that new classical crossover artists are launched around Christmas time, but it's not so often that they are given as much buzz as Camilla Kerslake has been given. Her debut album is probably the most anticipated album of the season as whispers of curiosity reach the very corners of classical crossover fandom. Is it all justified?
As far as the voice goes, it's a big fat yes. Her voice has undergone a rather unique combination that will thrill any crossover fan. Equipped with the natural ability to reach the highest of notes (a teacher walked in on her singing notes half an octave higher than the highest note ever written for the human voice) Kerslake never took up classical training due to lack of funds. Her vocals are raw, lacking the richness and wholesomeness of the classically trained singer. The upside to this is the light, crystalline and pure sound to her vocals, reminding a listener strongly of Hayley Westenra and even more strongly of another coloratura soprano, Emma Shapplin. Since the latter has decidedly gone back down the pop route, Kerslake could not have come at a better time.
Armed with her bell like voice, the producers know what should take centre stage. The arrangements are as quiet as can be to let Kerslake tell the story. Her rendition of Take That's 'Rule the World' is as loud as it gets on the album, as the remainder is reminiscent of Westenra's album productions. The recording of her voice is intimate and clear. Her diction is spot on and the clarity of her voice really demonstrates Kerslake's interpretation skills, especially apparent in songs like 'Closest Thing to Crazy' and 'Cavatina'.
The disappointing side to this album is probably how predictable it is although the tracks were largely selected by Kerslake herself and there are, at least, a few surprises. 'Rule The World' is exclusive to Kerslake (the perks of having Gary Barlow as your mentor, perhaps!) It's had the usual Italian translation treatment and the song works with orchestral arrangement as well as it does in the pop style. 'I Can't Help Falling in Love' has previously been recorded by Russell Watson, but Kerslake treats it completely differently, creating a more folksy sound. 'Closest Thing to Crazy' has also been proved to work as a classical piece by Juliette Pochin on Classical FM's 2008 album Songs Without Words, but there's no evidence that Kerslake and team were aware of this, as they approach the song from another angle and trump Pochin's with relative ease. Although one may give a knowing nod at 'Pie Jesu's place on the track list, you are more than likely mistaken, as it's neither Andrew Lloyd Webber's or John Rutter's song but Gabriel Faure's. The track regular crossover fans may not have come across is 'Balulalow', based on an 19th century poem - a song, that yet again, carries little orchestral accompaniment but features a choral backdrop.
Although the songs are safe, many of them have never been more suited for anybody else. 'How Can I Keep From Singing' is one of the highlights of the album as is 'In Paradisum'. There's a bonus disc that was added at the last minute containing some Christmas carols to take advantage of the holiday season, and these are all treated in the same way. Her rendition of 'White Christmas' is particularly notable, and 'Silent Night' is obviously a perfect song for her. There's nothing ground-breaking here, but as a debut album trying to reach a large audience, that's not what you would expect. Kerslake, in any case, has promised a very different second album, but for now, this is more than enough to satisfy our curiosity about Camilla Kerslake.
1. She Moved Through the Fair
2. How Can I Keep From Singing
3. I Can't Help Falling In Love
4. Rule the World (Il Mondo E Nostro)
7. Pie Jesu
8. Panis Angelicus
9. Closest Thing To Crazy
11. In Paradisum
1. Silent Night
2. In the Bleak Midwinter
3. The First Noel
4. Abide With Me
5. White Christmas