BWW Album Review: Alfie Boe's AS TIME GOES BY Is Full Of Old-Fashioned Elegance
For years now, Alfie Boe has been best known for his work in musical theatre and opera. Casual fans probably remember him best for his performance as Valjean in the 25th anniversary Les Miserables concert, while others have likely caught his performances on both Broadway and the West End.
With his latest album, As Time Goes By, Boe tackles a slightly different genre, covering a variety of mid-century standards with a lounge-style, big-band sound. This branching out is a delightful new avenue for Boe that his fans will be sure to enjoy, although the album is not uniformly excellent.
The album is at its best when Boe finds the balance between the rich timbre of his voice and the jazzy energy of many of the songs he's chosen. "Moonlight Serenade" and "As Time Goes By" are both silky-smooth, elegant, and old-fashioned in the best possible way. It's easy to imagine Boe as a Sinatra-like figure, brimming with charm (although considerably more in tune than the American singer who famously sang flat on more than one occasion). "Sing Sing Sing" is the high-energy highlight of the album, moving into more of a pop/big-band sound.
Not all of Boe's song choices are quite as successful, however. Although he sounds lovely on the album opener, "La Vie en Rose," the delicate song is a bit of a mismatch for Boe's full-voiced, quasi-operatic tones. And in some moments, the album's throwback-big-band vibe strays a little too far into "dated" territory. The worst offender in that regard is "Minnie the Moocher," a bizarrely jazzy song about a gold digger (or, as the lyrics call her, "a red-hot hoochie-coocher"). Boe's co-star on the track, Kelsey Grammar, is as game as they come, but even he can't save this song.
One of Boe's other duets, however, fares much better. "A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square" pairs Boe with Brennyn Lark, whose vocals hit that perfect spot between sweet and sultry on the elegantly romantic duet. It's not as well-known a song as some of the other covers on the album, but its warmth and style make it one of the highlights.
The album concludes with a pair of songs that are pleasant but feel odd as a way to wrap things up. While "Mood Indigo" and "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You" are perfectly good songs, they feel a little bittersweet, ending the album on a surprising down note. It's details like this that make the album good, but not great. Boe's voice is phenomenal - it just needs the right songs to truly shine.