Amore Musica

by: Russell Watson

Having enjoyed enormous success in Europe, where he was dubbed "The People's Tenor," Russell Watson soon found his career in jeopardy following the release 2002's Reprise. A growth was found on one of his vocal chords and he opted to have it removed, which is an especially frightening procedure for a vocalist -- just ask Julie Andrews. Fortunately, Watson's surgery was a success and Amore Musica is his first recording following an extended recovery. Any doubts that his voice was affected by the surgery are immediately put to rest on the opening song, "Amore e Musica," a grand pop/classical piece that allows Watson to exercise the range of his newly repaired tenor. If anything, he sounds more relaxed with a silkier tone that further embraces Amore Musica's classical crossover selections. While there are still a couple of true classical selections like an adaptation of Sir Edward Elgar's "Nimrod" entitled "We Will Stand Together," the focus is on material that will hook pop-minded adults who love a strong, romantic voice. And nothing screams louder for pop acceptance than "Pray for the Love," a new tune by mega-hit songwriter Diane Warren. Luckily, it is one of her better efforts and Watson delivers a perfect pop performance. But the song's inclusion seems like a calculated effort by Watson to obtain the massive U.S. audience that his North American counterpart, Josh Groban, has already lassoed. To further invite comparison, Watson has included one of Groban's hit songs, "You Raise Me Up," as if to say "here's my version, take your pick." Frankly, Groban's is the better choice, but that is not to say Watson can't acquire a similar following. Amore Musica may not be the disc that does this for him, since it lacks a standout signature track -- something that Groban has been blessed with twice. However, the disc is Watson's most consistent effort thus far. His choice to move further away from true classical pieces is a good decision as his tenor seems better suited to modern pieces like the inspirational "La Fiamma Sacra" or the alluring duet with Lara Fabian "The Alchemist," a theatrical song that sounds like a lost treasure from Broadway's Miss Saigon or Chess (get this man a show!). Sounding more confident than ever with a renewed voice and a new outlook, Russell Watson is moving in the right direction and Amore Musica is a welcome return. ~ Aaron Latham

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