Music Review: All Angels, "Starlight" EP
Release Date: November 22, 2010
Label: Songbird Recordings
· Official Site
by Paul Schultz
Published: January 27, 2011
If all angels looked like this, I'd be ready for heaven. As it is, All
Angels is a manufactured "female classical supergroup" from the
UK originating with four photogenic teenage choirgirls who auditioned for the
honor. Riding the crest of classical crossover popularity exemplified by
current acts such as Britain's Faryl
Smith and America's young Jackie Evancho,
All Angels has covered folk songs, musicals, modern classics and spirituals on
their self-titled debut (2006), Into Paradise (2007) and Fly Away (2010).
Starlight is a five-song EP coming less than a year since their third
album dropped and includes the usual eclectic mix, though front-loaded with pop chestnuts.
Opening up the set is the ballad "True Colours" which -- depending on
your age -- is either the Cyndi Lauper original, late-90's cover by Phil
Collins, or Glee cast rendition. Or maybe you just remember the haunting
version from that Kodak commercial.
Whatever your persuasion, you'll enjoy what All Angels does with the song.
Starting with mere bass accompaniment, the girls trade lines before joining in
close harmony for the chorus and then a capella for the second verse.
"Goodnight My Angel" is another song that has made the rounds. It was originally
released in 1993 as "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)" by Billy Joel, inspired by his daughter by Christie Brinkley, Alexa Ray Joel.
Since then it has been covered by the likes of Celtic Woman, Jennifer Page, and John Stamos from
Unexpected Dreams - Songs From The Stars, a compilation featuring various actors singing lullabies.
All Angels renders it straight-up a capella with chirpy and exquisite four-part
harmony, retaining its delicate countenance.
All Angels, "Starlight" EP
1. True Colours
2. Goodnight My Angel
5. Infant Holy/Ding Dong
A real eyebrow-raising choice is "Starlight" from
Muse. Fans of the English rock band might not be a"muse"d by
the pop-classical interpretation, but All Angels offers an interesting
arrangement that features light Flamenco guitar accompaniment that gives the
tune a certain Spanish vibe.
Angels All: Rachel Fabri (second from right) is the newest
member of All Angels, joining the original cast (left to right)
Daisy Chute, Charlotte Ritchie, and Melanie Nakhla.
Turning toward more classical fare, the young ladies tackle "Adiemus"
by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins.
The acoustic guitar and drums add energy while never overwhelming the elegant
Rounding out the collection is a holiday medley comprised of "Ding Dong Merrily on High"
and "Infant holy, Infant lowly" based on a traditional Polish Christmas carol, "W zlobie
lezy." As with "Goodnight My Angel" this is sans instrumentation
so the four vocals can intermesh without distraction.
When the teens were assembled in 2006 they signed a five-album deal.
The fact that album number four is merely an extended play with five tracks is
an ominous sign that the record company may be trying to hasten the completion
of its contractual obligation. On the other hand, it could be they wanted
to showcase newest angel Rachel Fabri, replacing Laura Wright who left in 2010 so she could focus on her education.
If the next album is All Angels' Greatest Hits I'm collecting on my bet.
Naturally, what I wanted from Starlight EP was more. The vocal blend
presented here makes for an easy listen with the background music smartly kept to a minimum
to allow the close harmony to shine. I can't say I entirely shook the
feeling of contrivance, but I never wanted the heavenly voices of All Angels to