Reviewer: Charlotte Broadbent
Ben Stock’s debut album And there was music is a warm invitation to enjoy his musical inspirations, personal favourites and classic crowd pleaser’s. Stock covers a broad range of tunes from the golden era of musicals. As Stock has worked extensively in musicals as both a performer and as musical director we know that we are in safe hands, and his depth of understanding and clear love for the genre beams out of this album creating a very intimate and glittering experience.
In lieu of simply doing track followed by track Stock has arranged certain pieces together creating a medley evoking a particular theme. For example, the Optimistic Medley comprises of: Look for the Silver Lining, Pennies from Heaven and Tomorrow. In making these medleys Stock is able to enhance the overall message of the pieces and help the themes to ring out. Not to mention ensuring he has put his own stamp on the classics. He moves seamlessly from song to song which is a thrill for the listener as the subtlety of the arrangements means you never know what is coming next.
Inevitably there is a element of repetition as there is no change in texture and few alterations in tempo throughout. Most pieces are sung lyrically and legato which, though done beautifully can cause songs to run together and means that some songs lack definition. The high point of the album is in the acid tongued Mrs Worthington in which Stock gives a gutsy and raucous performance. Stock really inhabits his character here which isn’t so evident in other pieces. The Rose, an essential cabaret staple, is performed with delicacy and revealing the subtle power of Stock’s voice making it a real showstopper. Stock’s piano playing is crisp and precise yet, along with everything else is communicated with panache and charisma.
There’s a touching tribute to his Mother in the form of Mama a Rainbow from Minnie’s Boys. This intimate detail does enhance the album, and, indeed; the accompanying booklet is full of Stock’s opinions, humour and candour which, again brings the listener into the experience. The personable quality of the album is arguably its strongest selling point. Of course Stock is incredibly gifted but this cozy quality is what sets it apart from other, similar albums.
With such an experienced MD it cannot fail to be beautifully understood and communicated. Easy listening with an old world glow evokes the by gone musical era that Stock clearly adores. A light hearted album that speaks from the heart.