Susan Boyle - The Gift album review
- Nov 16, 2010
Susan Boyle hit the headlines as phenomena surrounding her exploded like never before, after her first audition on ITV’s ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ in April 2009. Set to smash records once again with second album ‘The Gift’, we know she has the talent, but does the album?
‘Perfect Day’ as a group celebrity charity single was probably enough to make anyone want to vomit, but raising money is always forgivable; Susan Boyle does not have that excuse. This version is obviously belted beautifully; with classical production, enchanting orchestration and angelic choral arrangements, it opens an album that is only suitable for Christmas and predictably a nice little earner for Syco music (Simon Cowell’s label). It’ll have people slinging a few into shopping baskets to distribute as generic gifts to ‘Great Auntie Whoever’ this year.
Another cover of ‘Hallelujah’, formerly released by X Factor winner Alexandra Burke not even two years ago, is festive with piano crescendos, vocal power and poignancy in spirit, with sacred chorister warbles behind the magic; pretty, but much too soon for another round of this Leonard Cohen favourite. The first two tracks are not directly related to the season of good-will, which must be the reasoning to see it good for an early November release. Everyone loves ‘Subo Fever’, and as we further warm to her, the album regrettably reeks of another way to line the label big boys’ wallets with cash. A cover of Crowded House’s ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ could have been arranged by the Pope - all very fitting for a soundtrack to turkey cooking. Susan Boyle, with her enormous voice, this time releases a far more innocent resonance, dressing her down by thirty years.
Eventually, the disguised Christmas escapade reveals itself with ‘The First Noel’. Beginning acoustically, a gradual emergence of a heart-rending violin and piano is had, all maintaining a modern feel - well as modern as a carol with orchestration can be. Yes, it is ‘nice’, but nothing compared to the spectacular of previous ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ and the ‘Wild Horses’, we love her for. ‘Oh Holy Night’ may as well be any of a thousand versions, but it is nearly Christmas and in that respect highly inoffensive, but won’t give Il Divo a run for their money, or long- forgotten Rhydian for that matter.
Among other carols, album life extends into New Year with as outstanding a version of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ as one can expect. Emotional, subtle, fragile and accompanied by a solemn accordion, it will hardly have you banging your pots and pans while looking forward to better things to come on the stroke of 2011. Just on the off-chance the point of the collection was forgotten, ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, begun with a haunting a capella Boyle solo gradually meets choirs and key changes to make hairs stand on end. Being utterly unaccompanied by instrumentation, it is an attractive yet religious finisher.
Verdict? A Christmas money-maker to be loved during advent followed by eleven months hidden in a drawer; timeless, but obvious. Susan Boyle isn’t to blame – she is too busy living the dream to notice.