This review is part of a series called ‘I Didn’t Know They Could Sing’ and basically it’ll just be us reviewing people who are more well known for something other than their music career. I would like to add that just because they are more well known for something else such as being an actor for example does not mean that their music career hasn’t been successful, being featured in this series just means that the overall cultural perception of the individual is for something other than music.
Okay now that I’ve got that out of the way it’s time to introduce the artist we will be talking about today, Sheridan Smith is an incredibly talented, incredibly sweet and incredibly beautiful star of stage and screen, appearing in West End musical productions of Little Shop of Horrors (as Audrey), Legally Blonde (as Elle Woods) and Funny Girl (as Fanny Brice). She is also well known for starring in shows such as The Royle Family (as Emma Kavanagh), Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps (as Janet Keogh), Grownups (as Michelle Booth) and Benidorm (as Brandy) just to name a few. I will admit I am most familiar with Sheridan Smith from Two Pints, and even in that show she managed to sing, which you can check out here and here. Granted those examples are mostly comedic but it still shows both her talent and dedication to singing. But anyway, today I will be reviewing her first album, Sheridan which was released on the 3rd November 2017 by East West Records, and is a collection of covers.
‘Crazy’ opens with a piano, the long drawn out chords building emotion, full disclosure I adore the original track, but Sheridan’s cover is phenomenal, her voice is familiar, and powerful and she charges every line with raw emotion, it was hearing this track just by chance that had actually inspired me to review both her music and create this new series for the site. It’s not hard to see why this song works so well, it’s just so poignant, and her voice just works so well with it, at times it did feel like she was shouting against the harder instrumental backing, but this actually worked for me, it seemed to fuel the intensity of the track.
‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ is just a big swinging track, great vibes and it again gives Sheridan a chance to truly showcase her vocal talents, I will add that it is almost jarringly different from the previous track but where that may see scattered or disjointed, it instead works really well, building a very real progression of emotion and feeling, instead of working on linking various songs that don’t need to be linked to function together. I adored her voice in this song, it’s just so powerful and barely contained, this doesn’t feel like your average studio production, it’s so vulnerable and you really feel it.
‘City of Stars’ changes up the tone again, smoother, jazzier and again Sheridan tackles it with deftly, showing even greater depth to her vocal range, and her ability to convey more than simple words with her singing, I ended up coming back to this one more than the others while reviewing, something about it soothed me, and right now especially we all need that. Maybe I just like big productions, and musicals though.
‘Mad About the Boy’ has a fun energy to it, and shakes things up after a few more serious songs, her accent works well and lend authenticity to the track, what I really like about this and most of the tracks on this album, are that they weren’t picked because they made her voice sound good (although they do) or because they necessarily fit together neatly (although they do work well together) but instead because each speaks to the singers mood and state of mind, each tells a story, and listening to them is just so much deeper because of that.
‘I Smell a Rat’ has a lot more bite, showing again Sheridan’s ability to both perform across the board, but also portray intensity and emotion in her singing, I really enjoyed the high energy feel of this, the same way the previous song was a little lighter on top, this one adds more to the album.
‘Dinner at Eight’ slows things down again, her crystal clear and beautiful voice is especially noticeable in this track, I think because of the cleaner and more subdued instrumental backing, it really works for me.
‘Superstar’ while slower like the above track, has a very different feel to it, I think perhaps because of the objectively more complex backing, it’s a little busier but it still showcases the prominent vocal talents of Sheridan, and man you can just get lost in that voice.
‘Hurt’ was just breathtaking, it’s hard to put into words…so boy am I in the right job, but seriously though, on the face of it, it’s similar in style and quality to the other tracks on this album, but something about this one just had this extra little bit of wow factor that pushed it over the edge, maybe it was the more extended vocals parts, where she just let her voice loose, the holding of the notes, ringing every last drop of intensity out of them, but it just spoke to me.
‘Addicted to Love’ brings us back around again, more high energy, a distinctly rock feel to the whole performance, it’s very confrontational and fiery, and it’s a strong performance that really does the original justice.
‘My Man’ really made me want to watch Funny Girl again, and especially to have seen Sheridan Smith perform it in the West End, it’s just a powerful piece of musical theatre that Sheridan really makes her own.
‘For Forever’ shows off her voice tremendously, both with the subtle accent, and just the simple backing, which again really allows her voice to shine, that being said I already liked Dear Evan Hansen, and I felt this cover just captured the whimsy, naivete and sweetness of the song really well.
‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’ is perhaps the most honest and raw of all the entries on the entire album, it’s a powerful cover of a classic song, and her emotion shines through what is already a very emotional charged song. I’ve heard several different renditions of this over the years and this one holds its own, Sheridan manages to make it sounds distinct enough, she didn’t sound like she was trying to capture the feel of another performer, and the result is something that’s original and sincere.
So that’s what I thought of Sheridan Smith’s debut album ‘Sheridan’ and if you want to check that out for yourself then head on over to Spotify. Go show your love for the artist and their music by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or you can visit their website for more info.
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