While she is a star of the West End due to her performances in hit musicals like ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Wicked’ and most recently a mesmerising run in ‘Anything Goes’, Kerry Ellis has also ploughed a furrow as a successful recording artist. Her extraordinary talent was recognised by Sir Brian May, who produced and performed on her debut album ‘Anthems’, which meshed Musical Theatre and Rock extremely effectively. Ellis also recorded an acoustic live album with May, then a second studio album, ‘Golden Days’, which saw them share equal billing.
The songstress is by no means in the shadow of the curly haired guitar god however, issuing a solo album via Pledge and then following that up with the impressive ‘Feels Like Home’ which showed her mix Musical Theatre selections with Pop and Rock material, covering the likes of Elton John, Queen and The Beatles. ‘Kings & Queens’ sees her take another giant stride forward, utilising a collection of mostly original songs written for her. The title track, a wonderful contemporary Pop/Rock number, opens things in fine style. ‘Battlefield’ is hauntingly beautiful, augmented by the signature guitar sound of special guest Brian May. Speaking of guests, Newton Faulkner joins Ellis for a sublime duet called ‘Mean The World To Me’.
‘The Only One’ is a stunning piano ballad with a phenomenal vocal, which gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it. ‘Lemonade’ is good singalong fun, the feelgood ‘Big Wide World’ and ‘Loves Wins’ have two of the best choruses and ‘My All’ is an absolute showstopper that features the singer giving just that. There’s also an excellent cover of Tina Turner’s ‘Be Tender With Me Baby’ where Ellis wisely trades Turner’s raunchy snarl for a powerhouse delivery that manages to uplift and display vulnerability all at the same time. The spellbinding rendition of James Taylor’s ‘Fire And Rain’ also demonstrates Ellis’ magnificent phrasing, tone and range.
If you’re from a Musical Theatre background, there can be a temptation to just put out albums containing standards from ‘Les Misérables’, ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ etc but Ellis has boldly decided to go mostly original and not include anything from a traditional musical here. It’s spectacular – wonderfully produced and I’m struggling to think when she’s sounded better than this. One of the best things I’ve heard all year, which deserves to break Kerry Ellis through to many more listeners.
Reviewer & Album Information
Reviewer: James Gaden
Issue Reviewed In: #103