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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Audio Beaverhausen: Susan Boyle Carries On with Hope

It seems like Susan Boyle has been around for eons though her debut album, I Dreamed a Dream, was released in 2009, a mere five years ago. Since then, she has released six albums, the  latest, Hope, released just last week. Each of these recordings has charted on US Billboard's top 20.

Though not a Christmas release (Boyle has already done two of those), it is appropriately marketed for the season. Inspirational though largely secular in tone with the exception of a back-up choir that could be nothing but Christian in its resounding style, and the occasional church/gospel number like "Oh, Happy Day," Hope has five different producers and is Boyle's best work since her debut on I Dreamed a Dream.

With the most practically perfect enunciation in song since Julie Andrews, Susan Boyle tackles pop standards with her dreamy mezzo-soprano. Her choices are, in large part, exquisitely suited to both her talent and image. Gratefully, there is more upbeat production on Hope than we have come to expect from Ms Boyle in the past. Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" soars with S.B.'s interpretation. "The Impossible Dream" is covered impressively, so much so that I admit I got a tad teary-eyed on first listen. And the contemporary pop number, "You Raise Me Up," originally performed by Josh Groban, is a sonic stunner done diva-style with her own church choir.

John Lennon's "Imagine" is disappointingly anemic compared to most of the tracks on Hope, though the gospel-belting rendition of Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (though oft covered by others before) is here in all its glory. This Boyled "Water" confirms the 53-year-old white diva from Blackburn, Scotland is no slouch as a gospel singer while the opening track, "Wish You Were Here," is a dazzling version of the Pink Floyd song that engaged me from the get-go.

Classics like "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" and "Abide with Me," as well as "Oh Happy Day" bring new life to these numbers due to the obviously ardent passion with which they are performed.

As for Ms Boyle's physical make-over (cd pamphlet has several publicity photos), it becomes her gorgeous voice. And, frankly, nobody wants to see a dumpy diva. So make-up, hair-do, fabulous frocks! And, of course, the voice that took her from telly's Britain's Got Talent to an incredible recording career. Carry on, Susan Boyle!

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