Musical theatre group Collabro releases their much-anticipated third album Home today (3 March) following on from a live launch show at the London Hippodrome.
The first release on the group’s own record label, Peak Productions, marks the Britain’s Got Talent winners’ debut as a quartet exactly 1,000 days after they first shot to fame on the TV talent show.
Featuring musical theatre favourites including ‘Send in the Clowns’, ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ and the title track of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the album also includes ‘This is the Moment’ from Jekyll & Hyde, the track chosen by fans in an online poll. The recording also includes one original track, ‘Lighthouse’ penned by Ben Adams, formerly of Brit Award winners A1.
The new look Collabro will follow the launch of their album with a performance at G-A-Y on Saturday.
After taking home the BGT title in 2014, the boyband with a difference has notched up a debut chart-topping album and two major sell-out tours.
Below, Musical Theatre Review’s Scott Matthewman reviews the new album below:
Collabro – Home
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
Winning the 2014 series of Britain’s Got Talent by what is reported to be the series’ greatest ever winning margin, male vocal group Collabro proved that there was a mainstream audience for musical theatre songs away from the theatres and cabaret stages.
With their third album Home, released today, the band marks a new chapter in their life. Last year they parted company with Simon Cowell’s record label Syco, and reduced to a four-piece act after the departure of Richard Hadfield. So there is a sense that for Michael Auger, Jamie Lambert, Matt Pagan and Thomas J Redgrave, this album needs to lay the foundations for the years to come.
And for those who enjoyed the group’s first two albums, that foundation is one of continuity. This third album again focuses on musical theatre standards – although as many of the big guns have already been used on their first two discs, looking a little further afield has been necessary.
So while current West End hits are well represented (‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’ from Les Misérables, ‘For Good’ from Wicked and ‘He Lives in You’ from The Lion King) we also get ‘Journey to the Past’ from the 1997 movie Anastasia and ‘This is the Moment’ from Jekyll and Hyde.
The group specialises in the slower numbers, the kind of forceful ballads full of moments that would cause Westlife to rise from their stools in unison. And those are present here, of course – from the aforementioned Les Mis number to Love Never Dies’ ‘Till I Hear You Sing’.
But there are lighter moments, too: ‘That’s Life’ is a Bublé-fuelled riff on the Sinatra classic, while The Four Seasons’ ‘December 1963 (Oh What a Night)’, featured in the musical Jersey Boys shows that the band is more than capable of delivering up-tempo numbers when called upon to do so.
There are also signs of a group that is keen to tackle numbers not traditionally sung by men, or not usually heard outside their original musical theatre context.
In the former category we get a crisper, tauter version of ‘Send in the Clowns’ that one would hear in a production of A Little Night Music. A rendition of ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ is sung with less pace than Fanny Brices from Streisand to Sheridan Smith have performed it, but the arrangement allows Bob Merrill’s lyrics to shine alongside Jule Styne’s fabulous music.
To include ‘Bui Doi’ from Miss Saigon, a song about the illegitimate children of American servicemen in Vietnam, is the signal that the calibre of song is just as important, if not more so, than any existing mainstream popularity.
But it is the closing number of the album that is the most intriguing. Collabro’s first original song rather an a cover, ‘Lighthouse’ was co-written with songwriter Ben Adams. It is very much in the spirit of their balladeering style, and as such shares the sort of strong lyrical line that their choices of musical theatre songs equally possess. It would not be hard to envisage ‘Lighthouse’ as part of a theatrical score, so it feels completely at home as the climax of Collabro’s new album.
Strangely, the best song are those only available on the ‘deluxe’ edition download. Two bonus tracks see the band performing ‘Empty Chairs and Empty Tables’ and ‘For Good’ with just a piano accompaniment.
While the lush orchestrations throughout the rest of the album are accomplished, it is these two songs that highlight the strength of the male vocal, and how well the four performers’ vocal stylings work together.