Here at Angry Baby we like to bring you a wide range of music and this week, we’re bringing you a bona fide West End star in John Owen-Jones, who release his fifth studio album this week. Spotlight is a rather apt title, given that he was last week announced as sharing the role of Jean Valjean in the concert version of Les Miserables in the West End this Autumn. John will share the stage with other Les Mis legends such as Michael Ball, Carrie Hope Fletcher and Matt Lucas, while Alfie Boe will also play Valjean. Speaking since the announcement, John said “It’s been nearly ten years since the last time I played Jean Valjean in Les Miserables in London. I’m really excited to be going back to the role in what will be such a special version of the show. I am also delighted to note that when I appear in this production at the Gielgud Theatre, I shall have appeared as Jean Valjean in every London theatre in which the show has played!”
The songs on Spotlight are mostly from the world of musical theatre and have clearly been chosen to form a coherent narrative throughout, beginning with ‘From Now On’ and ending with ‘Goodbye’ from the Broadway musical Catch Me If You Can and Rocky Horror Show’s ‘I’m Going Home’. Choosing some classic songs that join together with newer tracks, the result is sheer class.
Beauty and the Beast’s ‘Evermore’ is a song that has begun to be recorded by several artists and no wonder; the beautiful melody perfectly suit the range and strength of John’s voice. The last note alone is worth the album price – John says it might be the longest note he’s ever recorded and it surely must be!
‘The Prayer’ is a duet made famous by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli but has been sung and recorded by many artists since it’s first appearance. On Spotlight, John duets with fellow Welsh singer, Lucie Jones and the result is magical. Lucie’s lovely voice blends exquisitely with John’s and leaves the listener wanting to hear from them both.
Other highlights from the album include ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, a version which has been specially arranged to incorporate musical motifs reminiscent of Jean Valjean, rather than Fantine, for whom the Les MIs song is written. It is a very restrained performance and brought to mind the eloquence of John’s Bring Him Home.
‘Climb Every Mountain’ has a very dramatic opening, whilst I defy anyone to listen to ‘Raise Me Up’ without standing up and singing along at the top of their voice! The inclusion of Spandau Ballet’s ‘Through the Barricades’ is a surprise but a happy one – the track is nicely understated and as John says, would work in a musical. Ending with a toned down version of ‘I’m Going Home’, John first shows us ‘Goodbye’, from the short lived musical, Catch Me If You Can, based on the movie of the same name. Upbeat and catchy, t’s a perfect musical theatre song and good to hear something that a lot of the audience might not be familiar with.
Spotlight is released on 15 February. Get your copy here.