Chris Passey’s debut album, Self Taught, Still Learning, is a rare treat of musical theatre-based songs that are very pleasant to the ear yet never pander to overstated self-indulgence and never slip into the realms of musical or lyrical cliché.
Chris Passey is a West Midlands based Composer/Lyricist, Musical Director and Vocal Coach as well as an accomplished musical theatre performer, whose credits include the role of Benjamin in the UK tour of Joseph And the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. He has performed his own work regularly around the Midlands and in various concert and cabaret venues in London. He was one of the featured composers in SimG Productions’ showcase of new musical theatre song writing, “Easter With The Composers”, at The Battersea Barge in March 2012 and two of his songs were selected as finalists for the 2012 Stiles And Drewe Prize. On Sunday October 7, he will be lending his vocal and song-writing talent to the Giggin4Good charity concert at the Actors’ Church in Covent Garden .
Self Taught, Still Learning (the proceeds of which will be donated to the MS Society and Cancer Research) is an album of songs taken mainly from Chris Passey and Amy Carroll’s concept musical, Bridges. The strongly narrative-driven songs all come across really well on the album. Passey’s music always seems to resonate with attractive melody without ever being bland or predictable and the lyrics (by Passey and co-lyricist Carroll) are crisp and edgy, getting inside character and driving the songs forward.
The vocals of each song are delivered exquisitely by a string of stellar performers, all of whom seem to have been perfectly cast for the song they recorded: Allyson Ava Brown, Kieran Brown, Siobhan Dillan, Mark Evans, Chloe Hart, Ross Hunter, Trevor Jay, Caroline Keiff, Simon Lipkin, Richard Meek, Zoe Rainey, Wayne A. Robinson, Lauren Samuels, Liam Tamne - plus Colleen Ballinger and her hilariously infamous Youtube alter-ego, Miranda Sings.
I can honestly say I loved all the songs for a variety of reasons but I did have a few special favourites. “Blue Sky Thinking” (with vocals by Lauren Samuels, who I regard as one of the UK’s most all-round gifted musical theatre actress/singers) has such a great “hook” and I love the lyric’s innate optimism. “If They Only Knew” is quite simply a beautiful song, made even more beautiful by the gorgeously rich tone of Kieran Brown’s vocals. “Worthy” blew me away with its combination of restrained power and subtle but effective emotion, all of which are highlighted perfectly by Colleen Ballinger’s stunning vocal performance. And I have to admit that I adored the comic antidote of the song by Miranda, which closes the album. Deliberately singing badly is a true skill in itself and the results are genuinely side-splittingly funny.
In short - this is a superb album for anyone who loves musical theatre and wants to support and enjoy new British song-writing at its best.
SELF TAUGHT, STILL LEARNING - THE MUSIC OF CHRIS PASSEY
Available from: Amazon.co.uk BritishTheatre.com iTunes CDBaby.com