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Laura Michelle Kelly - The Storm Inside

Laura Michelle Kelly, The Storm Inside

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

HAVING conquered both the West End and Broadway stages (for performances in musicals such as My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins), Laura Michelle Kelly has now decided to branch out into a fully-fledged singing career and releases her debut album in the form of The Storm Insider.

Recorded in London last summer, the album is a heartfelt collection of extremely diverse material – some of it new interpretations of classic material, while others new songs delivered in Kelly’s distinct style.

Produced by the highly respected Marius de Vries – whose past credits include Bjork’s Debut and Rufus Wainwright’s Want albums (One and Two) – the album certainly succeeds in showcasing Kelly’s tremendous vocal ability across several musical styles, while hinting at a career beyond the stage (should she ever decide to leave acting behind).

That said, it’s more likely to appeal to those with an ear for the bittersweet vocal style of Norah Jones and Katie Melua given its preference for strong, sweeping ballads, rather than any really diverse listener base. For as eclectic as the album undoubtedly is in places, it occasionally feels a little over-dependent on slow-paced ballads.

Her interpretation of Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know is a classic case in point, a version that slows down an already brooding effort. It’s good but not as good as it might have been.

Tracks like Butterflies and You Do Something To Me (her take on Paul Weller’s original) are also delivered in an oh-so tender style that effectively reveal Kelly’s roots on the stage – one can imagine then accompanying a West End showpiece with a lone spotlight focusing on her. As such, fans of such music will probably quickly fall in love with her crisp style.

It’s ironic, therefore, that the album worked best for me when exploring more lively territory.

Her very different take on Reach Out is rousingly delivered, with an alternative gospel background that never overshadows the main vocals, while the opening moments of Communication recall the ethereal splendour of Sigur Ros’ Hoppipolla before giving way into a nicely developed mid-tempo ballad.

There’s a nice jazz feel to Sweet Solution that was written especially for her by Jamie Cullum, while there’s a curiously upbeat vibe surrounding her version of Stephen Sondheim’s Losing My Mind, complete with happy go-lucky la, la, las and a trumpet finale.

Further notable efforts come in the form of her aching version of Numb, taken from Sia Furler’s album Colour The Small One and her haunting take on Nick Drake’s Riverman which kicks off the album.

Like I previously mentioned, there are probably one too many ballads on the album but, for the most part, The Storm Inside is sure to win many fans, especially among the Radio 2 and Heart FM crowd. Kelly certainly seems to know where the big sales lie and has responded accordingly. Given the scope of her ambition and the breadth of her talent, however, it would be intriguing to see her take on something that really stretches her (and that’s not a criticism).

Track listing:

  1. Riverman
  2. There Was A Time
  3. Sweet Solution
  4. You Do Something To Me
  5. Butterflies
  6. Reach Out
  7. Communication
  8. Stumbling
  9. Losing My Mind
  10. Numb
  11. Storm Inside
  12. Somewhere Only We Know