[n.b. This was moved from the pages subfolder to the blog>reviews sub.]
Featuring Julie Atherton, Samantha Barks, Annalene Beechey, Daniel Boys, Sarah Earnshaw, Ashleigh Gray, Ross Hunter, Michael Jibson, Sarah Lark, Rebecca Lock, Cassie McIvor, Amy Pemberton, Stuart Matthew Price, Lauren Samuels and George Ure.
Thank you for purchasing this debut album of my songs. To record and release it fulfils a dream I’ve had since my early songwriting days at school. However, if I’d told my teenage self my first album would be songs for musical theatre I would scoffed loudly and probably given my superior an adolescent slapping.
I didn’t grow up immersed in musical theatre. I was more into bands, drinking and sport, not necessarily in that order. My housemate at university (whom I blame my entire career on) persuaded me to play the part of a non-singing chess player in his production of ‘Chess’. Sitting through Anthem, Nobody’s Side and Pity the Child et al. for five nights in a row catapulted me into a passionate love affair with all things theatrical which saw me abandon my dreams of a Psychology PHD and instead audition for Mountview as a performer. My time at Drama school opened up a creative side of me I’d hitherto been steadfastly ignoring. You could say I came out at Mountview, albeit in an unconventional way.
When I finally got round to writing, it was no surprise therefore that I wrote an unconventional musical – ‘Departure Lounge’. The fact that it was embraced by the theatrical community I was astonished and humbly grateful for. So what next? After ‘Departure Lounge’ I began the real struggle, forging a living as a writer. This album is really a summary of that process so far.
I’ve been extremely fortunate in that the birth of my career has co-incided with the birth of Perfect Pitch, an Arts Council supported organisation that supports the development of new musicals, run by Andy and Wendy Barnes. 8 of the songs on Acoustic Overtures come from shows/bits of shows that Perfect Pitch have been in some way involved with.
It’s an odd thing, to yank a bunch of songs off the stage and try and play them through your headphones. For the album Peter White, Simon Greiff and I have tried to treat the songs as their own entities and make them as listener friendly as possible. I hope you enjoy them, and the wonderful performances by my awesomely talented guest singers, many of whom I’ve known for years and have been dying to record with ever since I met them. I leave you with a favourite quote from a favourite band growing up: “There’s only one way of life, and that’s your own” – Levellers, Levelling the Land (1991).
Dougal Irvine, September 2011 www.DougalIrvine.com
01. Mr Musical Vocals: Amy Pemberton I wrote this song specifically for Acoustic Overtures. You won’t find it in any musical soon, good luck trying to make dramatic sense out of it. It’s a piece of fun for those in the ‘biz and shows Amy off for being the phenomenal performer she is.
02. Clean Cut Rapper Vocals: Dougal Irvine I did a cabaret Off-Broadway in 2009 while ‘Departure Lounge’ was at the New York Summer Play Festival and I wrote this song to open the night. Those Brits on Broadway eh, we’re not half as funny as we think we are!
03. Two Faces Vocals: Ashleigh Gray From the very first draft of ‘In Touch’ which was originally titled ‘Simpletown’. Andy and Wendy Barnes liked the song so much it stayed for about four drafts before getting cut. It takes a special performer to really make this song work – enter Ashleigh Gray.
04. Silence And The Rain Vocals: Cassie McIvor and Daniel Boys My first attempt at a musical after ‘Departure Lounge’ was called ‘Guilt’ and showcased in Perfect Pitch 2007. The piece wasn’t great but I’ve always liked this song so I was really happy to be able to record it finally. Daniel and Cassie’s voices are a gorgeous blend.
05. The Morning After You Do It Vocals: Ross Hunter I wrote this as a pitch to get the stage rights for a film that came out in 2009. I’ll leave you to guess the film, the clues are in the lyrics. Oh and Ross Hunter – Wow. Special nod to Phil James on Guitar, he’d give Brian May a run for his money.
06. Megan’s Hero Vocals: Lauren Samuels This is from ‘In Touch’ developed by Perfect Pitch via workshops at LIPA, RSAMD and ARTS ED. With all that time in Drama schools it is fitting the first full production will be at another, the MTA, in June 2012. I love Pete White’s country arrangement of the song and Lauren Samuels simply nails it.
07. Tir Na N’Og Vocals: Samantha Barks and Dougal Irvine Another song from ‘In Touch’. Two characters bonding over the internet through re-enacting an Irish legend. But who to sing it? Simon introduced me to Sam Barks and it was a no-brainer.
08. Simple Vocals: Michael Jibson Another song from ‘Simpletown’. I’ve been a big fan of Mike Jibson since his stage debut in ‘Our House’, so was very excited to work with him finally.
09. Do You Want A Baby Baby? Vocals: Julie Atherton From a new piece I’m writing called ‘The Buskers Opera’. We cast the songs first on Acoustic Overtures before we approached any singers, but I was praying this song would make the final 12 as I had one person in mind. If there’s one performer who has gone out on a limb for new writing over the last ten years it’s Julie Atherton. I’m proud to call her a friend.
10. Mermaids Vocals: Annalene Beechey and Rebecca Lock This is the only other song from ‘Guilt’ that survived. I re-wrote it for the album. It’s very personal to me this song. Annalene and Becky are such beautiful singers, I can’t quite articulate what finally recording this song means to me.
11. We Need Love Vocals: Sarah Earnshaw, Sarah Lark, Stuart Matthew Price and George Ure The closing number from ‘In Touch’. Thanks to Mark Collins for extra help on the arrangement. I’m hugely grateful to George, Sarah, SMP and Little Earn for becoming more than the sum of their considerable parts on this song.
Bonus Track – Song For Friends Vocals: Dougal Irvine This is for anyone who’s supported and encouraged me over the years. Art isn’t easy (thanks for pointing that out Mr Sondheim) and earning a living from it is even harder. Thank you for keeping me going. Dx
All Songs Copyright Dougal Irvine – MCPS 2011
Produced for SimG Records by Simon Greiff
For more information visit: www.SimGProductions.com
Recording Engineered by Peter White & Siggi Sigtryggsson
Mixed & Mastered by Siggi Sigtryggsson
Vocals Recorded at London Elektrik, September 2011
CD Design & Art Direction by Simon Beechey www.atdgraphicdesign.com
Photography by Michael David Smith www.michaeldavidsmith.co.uk
8 tacks featured on ‘Acoustic Overtures’ were originally developed in association with: www.PerfectPitchMusicals.com
Musical Supervision by Peter White All songs arranged by Peter White and Dougal Irvine, except ‘Mermaids’ and ‘We Need Love’ arranged by Peter White, Dougal Irvine and Mark Collins
Dougal Irvine: Acoustic Guitars, hand claps and lead Keyboard on ‘Morning After You Do It’ Peter White: Piano, all other Keyboards, Banjo, Melodica, Finger Cymbals, Clay Pot, Tin Whistle, African Drum, Shakers, Cajon, Bongoes, hand claps and beat box (!) Phil James: Electric Guitars
Suzanne Evans: Viola and Fiddle John Hennessey-Brown: Cello Louis Dowdeswell: Trumpet Mike Davis: Tenor Saxophone Matt McDonaugh: Drums Gemma O’Duffy and Laura Tebbutt: Backing Vocals
Also available from the SimG Records catalogue:
The enchanting, ‘delightful’ debut album from West End chanteuse Annalene Beechey; featuring a selection of songs by leading British and American songwriters including; Scott Alan, Stiles&Drewe, Grant Olding, Maltby&Shire, Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz, Richard
Taylor, William Finn, with beautiful arrangements by Peter White, plus special guests
Rebecca Lock and Julian Ovenden.
‘a delightful album’ Musical Stages ‘a stunning performer, you’ll love this album’ Richard Maltby Jr. ‘a pleasure to listen to, an angelic voice … it’s a winner’ WhatsOnStage ‘a rare and gifted actress who layers startlingly focused emotion into her singing’ George Stiles
An Original Revue created by Mercury Musical Developments and The Gate Theatre, showcasing new British writing by Craig Adams, Eric Angus, Don Black, Maurice Chernick, Chris Burgess, John Farndon, Gwyneth Herbert, James Humphreys, Dougal Irvine, Paul James,
Frank Lazarus, Stuart Matthew Price, Cathy Shostak, Richard Stilgoe, Tim Sutton, Sarah Travis, starring David Burt, Stuart Matthew Price & Cath Whitefield, plus beautiful arrangements by Tony winner
‘sweet, and occasionally deep’ Mark Shenton, The Stage
‘marvelously satisfying revue … gamely performed’ TheaterMania **** 4 Stars
‘soaring vocals, graceful melodies, a must for any musical theatre fan’ Public Reviews
For more information and to purchase please visit: www.SimGProductions.com
Thank you to my wonderful guests and musicians. Thanks to Mike Xavier, Stevie Webb, Perfect Pitch, Siggi, and Stephen Fry. Thanks to my family, my beautiful wife Rhiannon and to little Pip (working title) for giving me the best deadline of all.
Special thanks to the following WeFunders, without whom this album would not exist:
Kevin Kelly & Paul Thurtle; Laura Kilburn; Amy Hutchinson and Paul Wilson from BritishTheatre.com; Oliver Blond; Lin-Ann Anatharachagan; Bee-Ann Robins; Kate Hudspeth; Gregory Ashton; Hugo Trebals; Jenny Latimer; Jo Harrington; Olly and Lou Rogers; Peter Dudas; Robin, Debs, Molly and Poppy Street; Christine S; Tim Prottey-Jones; Paul and Kathy Gillibrand; Sally Humphreys; Helen Brown; Niall Bailey; Anna Riera; Sarah (Smish) Smith; Carrie Purewal; Soliloquy; Gavin Young; Steven Richards; Cynthia DiCola; Laurence Mark-Wythe; Jenny Smith; Sarah Brown; Helen Lockstone; Sarah Drew; Garry and Louise Crystal; Hannah Reymes-Cole (Bam Bam); Katie Bernstein; Mark Collins; Jennie Beanland; Gina Beck; Kate Rosenberg and Tomas Elizabeth Blasco.
And finally thanks to my two main collaborators on this crazy project; Simon Greiff (aka the man, Mr Cool, Mr Shorts) and the legend known as Mr Pete White. It’s been an absolute privilege.
When I first heard the music of Dougal Irvine I was completely entranced. The apparent simplicity and instant tunefulness belies, to my mind, a deeply musical talent. And he can write for character, which is an often forgotten essential in musical theatre. Dougal’s music can be parodic and witty as well as deeply lyrical or fabulously uplifting, rousing and anthemic too. Most of all, which is so rare in musical theatre these days, it is completely original in tone, style and manner. You hear no ghostly footfalls of Sondheim or Menkin, just the original voice of a wonderful composer/lyricist. I am proud to be a patron of Perfect Pitch which has helped Dougal develop ‘In Touch’ many numbers from which you will hear on this album. The coming together of Dougal and an organisation that exists to serve just such a unique and exciting talent makes my heart glow. Listen and enjoy.
Stephen Fry, August 2011