This weekend I was given a present of Susan Boyle's first CD 'I Dreamed A Dream'. It was my intention to order it for myself but I've hinted here, there and everywhere it's what I'd like for Christmas, so I was truly delighted to receive it now.
Accompanied by a glass of smooth red I retired to a quiet retreat, set up the hi-fi and pressed play. Her first three songs have been well publicised - Wild Horses, I Dreamed A Dream and Cry Me A River - all beautifully sung and her contralto more defined than it is in her live performances.
But (there's always a but isn't there?), by the time I reached track 6 'Daydream Believer' I was speedily losing interest. It was nothing to do with the quality of her voice or the pitch whatsoever, but the tempo. The musical director must have set a metronome at larghetto (60-66 beats a minute for those tempo aficionados) and to listen to Daydream Believer at that tempo turns it into a dirge. Track 9 'Who I Was Born To Be' was perhaps the one in which she was able to use more expression. I understand it was a song specially written for her to sing on this her first album.
Most of album is set at too slow a tempo and there is no variation whatsoever and thus it loses much of its impact. I didn't find it relaxing, quite the contrary - I wanted to shout 'just a wee bit faster please' too often.
Susan Boyle is a ballad singer and her voice has a range, quality and delivery not often heard these days in the younger generation. As any singer knows ballads require good breathing skills to flow seamlessly and she doesn't fail to produce the goods.
The blame must lie with the producers of the CD because they are the people who have the last word unless you're a well established singer. They should have introduced greater changes of rhythm - a couple of the songs were crying out for it.
It was my intention to buy the CD for a couple of friends as Christmas gifts but I've decided against it now. I think Susan Boyle's in this for the long haul, so I look forward to further releases in which she is able to have some say in the production and musical arrangements. Then I'm sure I'll hear something really special.