She’s successfully transformed from talent show star to first-class recording artist.
Adrian Edwards 2009
The phenomenon of Susan Boyle, the singer from West Lothian, rolls on with the release of this album on the Sony label, the home of Dylan and Streisand. I Dreamed a Dream stacked up extraordinary advance sales (and has broken 2009 records since its release), rejuvenated the box office of Les Misérables and looks set to dominate the singles and album charts over Christmas time, highlighted by her inclusion of the carol, Silent Night.
Boyles’s singing is of the moment, which began with her appearances on Britain’s Got Talent. She employs a very contemporary technique and can adapt her voice to the style of song, from a mid-Atlantic nuance in Wild Horses to a laidback performance of Cry Me a River, the antithesis of the recent blockbuster version from Michael Bublé. Her idiomatic take on this number suggests that she should have included more bluesy songs of this type, as it works to her advantage – she displays an innate affinity for a torch song, possessing a catch in her voice on certain phrases that is very affecting. The arrangement also enhances the sultry nightclub atmosphere to perfection.
In I Dreamed a Dream, from Les Misérables, her quieter singing, notable for its freshness and clarity of diction, evokes the spirit of a young woman without recourse to dramatics. Another winner is her gentle take on the Skeeter Davis song The End of the World, where the guitar accompaniment pays homage to the producer of the that single, Chet Atkins.
Many of the other songs placed in the middle of this album are from the evangelical belt or redolent of it, like Madonna’s You’ll See, which rely once too often on diffuse choral backings where, in truth, this singer is more than capable of holding her own in this genre. In the unaccompanied concluding line of Amazing Grace, the sincerity of her personality shines through without embellishment.
With this album Boyle has achieved a transformation from a performer on a talent show to a first-class recording artist not unworthy of her prestigious label.