Finally! The day I have been waiting for for what seems like an eternity is here! In actual fact, I have only been waiting since the official announcement was made on October 12th 2012 that there was to be an album, but it seems so much longer. This morning ‘Looking Up’ by Simon Bailey landed on my doormat. In actual fact, three copies did, but we won’t be fussy about details!
I’m sure anyone who has read my previous posts will know that this is terribly exciting for me, but as a huge supporter of the performer Simon Bailey, the release of his debut album is as if all my Christmases and birthdays have come at once. Needless to say I have had it on a continuous loop since it arrived at 10 am and it was so worth the wait.
Looking Up is a collection of songs ranging from classic tunes through to self penned compositions but the one thing which is overwhelmingly apparent is the emotion and honesty which fills the entire album. The focus throughout is on the vocals (and rightly so). It begins with ‘Sing For The Angels’, one of Simon’s own songs and one which had been previously released (in the extrememly basic form of Simon plus his guitar in a hotel room) on YouTube. This new version has a lovely melody, you almost want to sway to the tune.
Here is that original rendition : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pFlgZ7js2s
Second is ‘Dance With My Father’, a song previously released by Luther Vandross. It is clear through listening to it, that although he had no input into writing Dance with My Father that Simon means every word he sings.
Katie Hall (who appears alongside Simon in The Phantom of the Opera as Christine) joins Simon on track 3, a duet by Jason Robert Brown called ‘I’d Give It All For You’. What a voice she has! The two voices work well together and make for a very (surprisingly) catchy tune. The diction from both is excellent – something I often find lacking within albums – meaning you can understand every word.
This video is a portion of the song from when it was performed at ‘West End Fests’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-3YndaWoR4&feature=g-crec-u
‘The Distance You Have Come’ is next. This was penned by Scott Alan, a writer who I very much admire and it suits Simon’s vocals perfectly. It also seems very appropriate for lots of reasons, not least because he is currently touring with ‘Phantom’. If you get the chance, check out Mr Alan’s ‘Live’ album, it is well worth a listen.
Another of Mr Bailey’s own compositions is next, this one titled ‘The Everchanging’. As with Sing for the Angels, this also had a version relesased on You Tube. I adore what Tom Deering has done with arranging these songs. He has taken something lovely and made it beautiful This applies to everyone of Simon’s originals, but I also love what he has done with the others.
The link to The Everchanging (performed when the poor chap had a chest infection!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxSGPilIqw0
One of my all time favourite songs has an airing on this album. The Evanescence version is soulful, almost haunting and sung by a female. This rendition has all of those attributes and while remaining as the song I know and love, Simon has also made it his own. It really is stunning, I particularly like the addition of the strings.
Ramin Karimloo is the next of the special guests. His version of ‘Murder In The City’ is becoming quite famous among his supporters, but he and Simon also released a rough version (again in a hotel room with a single guitar) which went down a storm. Much to the delight of many, the two collaborated a couple of weeks ago when Simon joined Ramin on stage at his Broadway to Bluegrass…Ish gigs to sing this number. I’m so glad it is on the album, even if it does get stuck in your head!
Once again, the very basic form of ‘Murder in the City’ : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQBx9vKo-PE
Simon’s third song is next. Looking Up contains four songs which he wrote himself. As with the others, this is tuneful, thoughtful and honest. I thoroughly enjoy his writing style and Tom Deering really has added something with his musical prowess. I had not heard ‘I Can’t Stop The Rain’ before but I’m delighted it has been included here.
I have wanted, for quite some time, to hear Simon sing ‘Tears In Heaven’. Better known as the song Eric Clapton wrote for his son, I have long thought that Simon’s vocals would suit this song. I couldn’t have been more thrilled when I heard this was going to be included. And I was right. It works. So well it is as though it was written for him. What I particularly love about it is that it is raw. Vocals and piano. That’s it. And that’s all it needs. I am an absolute blubbing mess but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Words cannot even express how absolutely stunning this is.
‘Once’ the Musical is coming out in London’s West End during 2013 and it has been well publicised and well awarded. ‘Falling Slowly is a lovely song taken from the show and Sasbrina Aloueche joins him for the female parts. The two have voices which work so well together and although it is not a song I know well I think it is a great choice and fits in well with the others.
A surprise inclusion is ‘Travelin Thru’ by Dolly Parton. When you hear it you can see why it was added and it is not really that random, but as a female Country star, Parton would not be the obvious choice. I am a but of a Dolly Parton fan anyway, so was curious to see how this would turn out, but it’s great. Of course it is!
Rounding the album off is ‘Goodbye’. I have written about this song before and some of you have seen Simon perform it first hand. Songs don’t get much more personal than this one and you can hear the emotion in every word. Written following his Father’s death last year I defy anyone not to be moved to tears by this. Words aside, it is a lovely melody, but the lyrics break my heart. I cannot thank Simon enough for sharing something so deeply personal.
Once again, I know I have added it before, but here is ‘Goodbye’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJDZA0jfNPs
Complete with an autograph and booklet this album is a triumph. Credit must go to Simon Greiff (SimG Productions) for bringing this into fruition. To Tom Deering who is quite simply a genius. A wonderful choice of guest singers – Katie, Ramin and Sabrina – and a fantastic band, compllete with Hadley Fraser and a string quartet from ‘Phantom’. The tracks have been left with the vocals exposed, an almost raw sound, but this works. The accompaniment is there, just as much as is needed, and for certain songs just a simple piano or piano and strings is absolutely spot on.
I won’t lie, I had massive expectations for Looking Up. I wasn’t, however, expecting it to knock me for six as it has done. I’ve smiled at the beautiful melodies and I have cried at the words. I have been on a rollercoaster of emotions. I am so very proud of Simon for what he has acheived. This is an absolute work of art and without a doubt it should be on everybody’s Christmas lists. No matter which musical genre you are into, this should appeal. If you aren’t moved by this then you must be very hard hearted. I hope the attached videos will help with your decision to purchase this.I can guarantee you wont regret it.
Purchase Looking Up here:
Check out his facebook page:
Check out his Producer’s other projects here:
Follow Simon on Twitter – @simonBailey1210
Follow Katie Hall – @Katie1Hall
Follow Sabrina – @sabssnowglobe
Follow Ramin – @raminkarimloo
Follow Scott Alan – @ScottAlanNet
And if you like what you have read, please follow me @JustSamssister
Keep Dreaming, I’m off to listen again’