Having first been introduced to Kerry Ellis’s new album when photographing (and reviewing) her fabulous show at The Adelphi Theatre in London recently, this is a review which will slide effortlessly from the quill as Shakespeare would have it. As you like it would also apply, as was the case with the show, the album is instantly likeable and a sheer pleasure to listen too - there is not a weak track anywhere to be heard.
Kerry’s vocal delivery is nothing short of astonishing, built on the stage through numerous headline performances, she has also veered into more Rock/Pop adventures via her albums with Sir Brian May, who personally recommended her back in 2002 for We Will Rock You (in the role of Meat), the Queen song based show.
Comprised of twelve tracks, including mainly original songs, along with a handful of hand-picked covers, 'Kings & Queens' is the album on which Kerry truly finds her voice, fusing her signature musical theatre style with the contemporary Country Rock theme with which she has become synonymous.
Recorded in LA and London, and produced by the award-winning Mike Stevens (Annie Lennox, ELO, James Morrison, Take That), the album sees Kerry collaborate with some of music's biggest names, including esteemed singer-songwriters Newton Faulkner and Jamie Lawson, as well as the aforementioned legendary Queen guitarist.
The album also includes a selection of stunning cover tracks, including 'Fire & Rain' by James Taylor, and seldom re-recorded Tina Turner track, 'Be Tender With Me Baby', both of which Kerry has reinvented in her own distinct style. Continuing the American Country theme of the album, the record also features reimagined version of Carrie Underwood's 'Love Wins', adding a flare of positivity and light to the album.
'Kings & Queens' follows three previously released solo albums from Kerry. Her debut album, 'Anthems', was released to great critical acclaim in 2010, landing in the top 15 of the UK official albums chart. 'Anthems' was followed by 2014's self-titled record 'Kerry Ellis', and 2020's 'Feels Like Home'. Further studio albums released by Ellis include 2017's 'Golden Days', a collaborative album with Sir Brian May released on Sony Music.
She has gone onto star in a range of acclaimed productions on both the West End and Broadway, including Les Misérables, Wicked, Oliver! and Cats. Most recently, Kerry starred as Reno Sweeney in the UK and Ireland tour and Barbican Theatre residency of hit musical Anything Goes, alongside Denis Lawson.
Track by Track:
'Kings & Queens' - has just the correct amount of raunch to deliver on a nice rocky up-tempo intro track, “you start a fire inside my heart” she sings, and every listener surely believes her, it’s a super start, full with a great and powerful vocal.
'Be Tender With My Baby' - A ripping cover of Tina Turner’s classic tune, heartfelt and strong and acting as a wonderful tribute to the great lady, even though it was recorded prior to her tragic recent death.
'Battlefield' - A gentle introduction builds into a final crescendo, Bolero style, with a soaring vocal sitting above Brian May’s sublime guitar work before slowing down again to complete the song. It’s an awesome ballad.
'I Will Find You' - is a Country-based song that keeps in the mid-tempo range, a lovely tinge to Kerry’s voice showing how easily she can slide into the genre. To be fair, everything seems remarkably effortless for her on this album.
'Mean The World To Me' - Her deep love of the song 'Shallow' led to her hitching up with song writer Jamie Lawson and singer Newton Faulkner to deliver a song that surely must be a hit; it would have fitted seamlessly into a A Star Is Born; it’s beautiful and frankly great.
'Big Wide World' - Flits back into upbeat Country territory (despite its downbeat lyrics there is hope here!) with an air of Lee Ann Womack about it; another very fine tune.
'The Only One' - another lovely ballad, sublimely sung with passion creeping from every pore and another massive standout moment.
'Fire & Rain' – One of James Taylor’s more famous songs gets the full Kerry treatment, whimsically re-imagined and yet again delivering a wonderful song in her own style, yet remaining relatively true to the original and including a short and sweet sax solo.
'Lemonade' – the Poppiest song on the album, light-hearted and sassy and catchier than a baseball glove.
'My All' – This is a song that would grace any stage show as its main ballad, it’s wonderful from start to finish; her vocal defies description and is a highlight on an incredible album.
'Love Wins' – Carrie Underwood’s fine tune gets an outing as Kerry again tips her hat into the Country genre, suggesting that a place in the Grand Ole Opry would suit her as much as any West End or Broadway stage.
'Home Again' - Is a great closer, another super ballad rounding things off very nicely.
All in all this is a fabulous album, nothing lets it down, great playing behind magnificent vocals; she is as good live as she is on CD, and she is very, very good live…..