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Highlights: Bring Me To Life, Ancora Non Sai, No Woman No Cry, La Califfa, Who Wants To Live Forever
In the past, it has always been too easy to accuse Katherine Jenkins of being a money-spinning safety net for UCJ, churning out predictable albums and dressing up in granny friendly ball gowns for the album covers, so that each album was a steady success. But not anymore. Believe is her first album under the Warner label; a label that comes with an inclusive package consisting of David Foster. Anybody who's anybody wants to work with Foster, and with good reason - a master producer, song-writer and arranger he is a dead cert for a first class album. In the same way that Foster hasn't let Celiné Dion, Josh Groban, Michael Bublé and Whitney Houston down, he hasn't let Jenkins down.
Believe is a step in a new direction for Jenkins. With only four crossover standards there is a willingness here to explore obscure and unexpected material. The standout from the album, Evanescence's 'Bring Me To Life', is as ballsy as a crossover artist can get, and it was Jenkins that insisted that she record it (to her intense displeasure, Foster told her that she couldn't "sing that song"). Though Sarah Brightman has experimented with the gothic rock sound, and she has the campness to carry it off to the extreme, more mild crossover artists have shied away from it, but Jenkins proves that it doesn't need the theatrics of Brightman to work. The percussion and bass is replaced with pulsating strings, whilst the original rap bridge gives way to a building crescendo of Jenkins's operatic pipes. It lacks the emotive delivery of the original, but Jenkins certainly makes the song more haunting and majestically atmospheric. It is cleverly done and lends something productive to the crossover genre as a whole.
Other previous chart hits include Bob Marley's 'No Woman, No Cry', Sarah McLachlan's 'Angel', and Queen's 'Who Wants To Live Forever'. 'Angel' has been recorded by many crossover artists though they tend to keep the original simple and quiet arrangement. Foster has made it a bit more classical and he verges on overkill with the choral finale but it at least sounds refreshingly different to other covers. Fortunately, the same can be said for 'Who Wants To Live Forever'. The arrangement is a lot lighter than usual, and Jenkins complements this with one of her sweetest performances so far. She avoids emulating other renditions and gives an original and moving interpretation - the beauty in her voice at the bridge is especially captivating. 'No Woman, No Cry' is the other big surprise of the album; Foster's upcoming protégé, Cody Carey, supplies his clean cut tenor voice completing the transformation from reggae to pop.
Carey's involvement is only one of four collaborations on the album. Renowned violinist André Rieu features on 'Ancora Non Sai', trumpeter Chris Botti stirs up Ennio Morricone's classic 'La Califfa' and Andrea Bocelli duets with Jenkins on Eric Levi's standard 'I Believe'. All the extra names can be a bit distracting and Jenkins could have carried 'I Believe' on her own shoulders. Richard Marx donates 'Fear of Falling': a predictable, albeit melodic, pop ballad. Perhaps offering a cover of his famous hit 'Right Here Waiting' would have been a bigger treat, but Jenkins performs it well enough with sincerity and subtlety. Her Italian muscles are flexed yet again on various tracks, most notably on the instantly recognisable theme of The Godfather. She performs most of the album in her pop voice, so 'Paria Piú Piano' and the French cultural classic 'La Vie En Rose' will be welcomed by fans of the operatic side to Jenkins.
Generally, Believe is a firm step towards pop and this album may just scrape the approval of her more classical fan base as it has included some necessary standards, but this is definitely an album trying to reach out to a wider audience. Jenkins has grown and she has produced something that will have strengthened her confidence in straying away from standard and unimaginative crossover. Who was once just a singer has now been transformed into an artist and Believe is an appetiser for what is to come from the new and revamped Katherine Jenkins.
1. Till There Was You
2. Bring Me To Life
4. I Believe (ft. Andrea Bocelli)
5. Fear of Falling
6. Paria Piú Piano (The Godfather)
7. Ancora Non Sai (ft. André Rieu)
8. No Woman, No Cry (ft. Cody Carey)
9. La Vie En Rose
10. La Califfa (ft. Chris Botti)
11. Who Wants To Live Forever
12. Se Si Perde Un Amore