Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Album Review: To Do. To Be. by Tim Prottey-Jones

To Do. To Be. 
Tim Prottey-Jones
Released 7th September 2015

As if opening in a major West End musical wasn't enough to keep someone busy, Tim Prottey-Jones (who is currently appearing in Kinky Boots) has returned to writing with the release of his new album To Do. To Be. The past year has been tough for new British writing, but Prottey-Jones has fully restored my faith.

To Do. To Be. sees Prottey-Jones collaborating with various writers including Tori Allen-Martin, Nick Smithers, Angela Prottey-Jones, Martin Meehan, Daragh Carville and Ali Harris. The fifteen numbers are from six different musicals, but stand strong out of context. There is a consistent sound throughout which is refreshingly different.

It's striking to listen to a collection of music which is written with such truth and detail plus performed by a remarkable bunch of West End talent. The style couldn't be more different from stereotypical musical theatre; however, the storytelling, the vocal technique and identity of  To Do. To Be. stays true to its theatrical roots. I would certainly jump at the chance to see any of the six musicals performed live onstage.

The catchiest song is the first track 'Have You Ever?' which features a chillingly brilliant vocal performance from Amy Lennox. 'I'll Be With You Always' is another stand out, the melody soars with 2015 WEF Understudy of the Year winner Jacqueline Hughes showing off her stunningly rich vocal tones. I adore the folk influences behind 'The Song Of Sin' which is performed magnificently by  Paul Ayres.

Joe Tracini is a revelation on 'Sunshine' - I had no idea he is such a talented singer! Emma Hatton's luscious voice is the perfect fit for 'Keep Your Distance', a duet she sings with Alistair Brammer who shows off a smoother side of his supreme vocal talents. 

Sometimes new writers try to stand out by making their music as complex as possible, but it is the simplicity of 'Regret Me' which makes time stand still. Ambra Caserotti's vocal performance is on point and beautifully emotive. It's a joy to hear Declan Bennett singing again on 'Kiss Till You Can't Kiss Anymore' whilst Tyrone Huntley impresses with 'I Tried To Save You'. 

Cameron Sharp shows off some powerhouse vocals on 'Have You Again' whilst Arthur Darvill sings 'Leaving For You' with great flair. Elsewhere Evelyn Hoskins, Brian Gilligan, The Paper Hearts and Andrew Bateup all give brilliant renditions of their respective tracks. 2013 WEF Best West End Debut winner Zrinka Cvitesic seduces with her performance of 'I For One' before Laura Pitt-Pulford fully lets rip on the final track 'Nothing'.

What strikes me about To Do. To Be is how easy it is to listen to. It's gentle and atmospheric, but if you sit down and pay attention there is so much detail to appreciate. I adore the varied influences of Prottey-Jones' work and think some sort of To Do. To Be concert would be unmissable. 

To Do. To Be. features an exceptional collection of material performed by an exceptional ensemble of musical theatre artists at the top of their game. New British writing just got exciting again!

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Click here to purchase To Do. To Be. from iTunes.

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