Monday, 2 September 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Ramin Karimloo, 'From Now On'


Iranian-born Canadian singer and actor Ramin Karimloo has become one of the best-known talents in the world of Musical Theatre, building a CV of impressive productions worldwide. He made his West End debut at 26, making history as the youngest Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera, and then reprised that role for both the 25th Anniversary concert, and the sequel musical Love Never Dies. Broadway credits include Les Mis (Tony Award nomination), Anastasia and Chess at the Kennedy Centre.

The theme of this record is reflection, and each track fits the brief perfectly. Karimloo turned 40 last year, and it is clear that this milestone prompted him to look at his journey thus far. A broad spectrum of work is covered here, with songs from The Bridges of Madison County, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Dear Evan Hansen, Chess and The Bodyguard.

From Now On is the second full-length album from Karimloo, and covers a series of Musical Theatre and film favourites with his “Broadgrass” band, adding an unusual folk twist to these classics, with instruments like banjo, and fiddle. Perhaps the most different from the original is Frozen’s Let It Go, which would not feel out of place on a folk album, rather than an all-singing, all-dancing Disney cast recording.

The album title track, from The Greatest Showman is a blinder of an opening, and I would not be surprised if Karimloo played circus ringleader Barnum onstage when the musical adaptation becomes a reality. He absolutely holds his own, putting his own spin on the powerhouse anthem made famous by stage and screen legend Hugh Jackman.

Artists that cover I Will Always Love You often take inspiration from Whitney Houston’s iconic recording, so it’s very refreshing to hear one that remembers Dolly Patron’s original.

I particularly enjoyed that this album never feels overproduced, especially the vocal. It has an almost live quality to it, which works well on tracks like Rent’s What You Own. Musical Theatre fans crave something more real than the overproduced, manufactured sound of commercial artists, and they will not be disappointed with this album. That said, a quick iTunes search taught me that Karimloo has never recorded Bring Him Home or Music of the Night, his two most career-defining anthems, and on this album, there is definitely room for a new version of the former, especially with this band.

Ramin Karimloo’s tenor sound is unique and instantly recognisable both here, and on the many cast recordings he has lent his talents to. Any fan of his work will enjoy this album, and it wouldn’t surprise me if there another is already in the works.

Review by Ian Marshall

Rating: ★★★★
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