A surprisingly good and satisfying if somewhat over-earnest debut.
Michael Quinn 2007-11-23
Plucked from obscurity by a television talent show, Lee Mead was, from the off, the only possible winner of the BBC's Any Dream Will Do; the competitive (and not a little repetitive) singathon to find a new Joseph to fill the technicolor dreamcoat. Far outshining his fellow competitors, Mead conducted himself throughout the series with a quiet confidence that was exceeded only by the voluble precision of his performances. With his own footnote in music theatre history secured, it was only a matter of time before a solo album offered itself up for comparable adulation.
And here it is. With the emphasis on adult understatement and the spotlight focused in on Mead's ability, away from the dazzle and distraction of prime-time light entertainment fripperies, to deliver vocally. Shrewdly side-stepping the saccharine schmaltz of show tunes – even the single Joseph extract, "Any Dream Will Do", is listed as a 'Bonus Track' – Mead sets out his stall with, on its own terms, a surprisingly good and satisfying if somewhat over-earnest debut.
Solidly rooted in sure-footed production by sometime Kylie, Steps and Atomic Kitten guru, Graham Stack, Mead easily nails Seventies' bubblegum pop with a belting cover of David Essex anthem, "Gonna Make You A Star", a melting take on Bread's "Make It With You" and David Cassidy's "How Can I Be Sure" delivered with a guileful puppy-dog vulnerability. He also has an exclusive in the form of a Gary Barlow-penned premiere: The cabaret-smooth torchsong "When I Need You The Most".
And in between, there's a passable "Paint it Black"; a pared-back "Stronger", more sweetly plaintive than the Sugababes original; a husky ballad in the Mel C co-penned "The Best Is Yet To Come", and a handful of other decidedly MOR-oriented performances that seem calculated to give Mead's star a slower, more sustained burn. This also suggests that he is considerably more than a mere television novelty.