“ Artist: Gareth Peter Dicks / Label: Escape Records „
After originally buying the album Bluebird simply because of Ramin Karimloo's presence on it, I realised that I actually liked the music for its own sake, so decided to seek out more of Gareth Peter Dicks' compositions. The Music Box is a compilation of standalone songs and music taken from musicals, both past ones and those yet to be completed. It had positive reviews on Amazon and looked like a varied and interesting collection. Mixing musical theatre with pop and rock, the album features a variety of singers, many of whom have had starring roles in the West End, and full orchestral backing.
The album begins with Winding Up the Music Box, a gentle melodic introduction, leading into The Seasons Turn, a reflective ballad on the passage of time featuring an ensemble of singers. When Will I Know Your Name?, sung by Liam Tamne who has appeared in Hairspray and Les Mis, is a gentle pleading ballad, but More! is a dramatic, uptempo song about unrequited love with strong piano backing.
Crimson Droplets is one of my favourite songs on the album. Sung very well by Rebecca Lock, who has starred in Avenue Q and Phantom, it is dark and dramatic, and reminds me a bit of Sweeney Todd. Indeed, it was written for a proposed musical about Jack the Ripper. It is followed by a melancholic instrumental, The Long Journey Home.
The next track offers a change in tempo: Run With Me is an uplifting and rather sweet song, which I can easily imagine as part of a musical. Live In Dreams is another ballad, with beautiful backing orchestration. Who Have I Become? is another of my favourite songs, sung dramatically and with great passion by Katie Rowley Jones. The track is backed with a delicate piano melody, allowing her strong vocals to shine.
Please Don't Go is a heartfelt piano-led ballad, while No Turning Back is another strong dramatic song with a bit of a rock edge, helped by the presence of guitars. Simple Words is a sweet, sad ballad, while What Case I? takes an interesting approach, setting some of Shakespeare's words to music. Without Him/We Are Here features Gina Beck, who has appeared in Phantom, Les Mis and Wicked, in a solo followed by an ensemble of beautiful harmonies.
I Need You is another heartfelt ballad, while The Music Box is a full-length version of the instrumental which opened the album. Goodnight, Dear Soldiers is a poignant track that I am familiar with from the Bluebird album, albeit with a different orchestral arrangement. There is also a hidden surprise at the end of this song, which made me very happy!
This is a varied collection which should appeal to anyone who enjoys the musical theatre sound, with strong vocals and backing and a good mix of ballads and uptempo songs. I would like to see some of these staged as part of a full-length musical, but in the meantime I will continue to enjoy listening to this CD.
Winding Up the Music Box - Introduction
The Seasons Turn - Martin Neely, Rebecca Lock, Jeff Nicholson, Gina Beck
When Will I Know Your Name? - Liam Tamne
More! - Ross Hunter
Crimson Droplets - Rebecca Lock
The Long Journey Home - Instrumental
Run With Me - Liam Doyle
Live In Dreams - Richard Dempsey
Who Have I Become? - Katie Rowley Jones
Please Don't Go - Chris Barton
No Turning Back - Ricardo Afonso
Simple Words - Gemma Sutton
What Case I? - Laura Pitt-Pulford
Without Him/We Are Here - Gina Beck & Ensemble
I Need You - Sarah Earnshaw
The Music Box - Instrumental
Goodnight, Dear Soldiers - Abi Finley