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An impressive debut from a talented vocalist
on October 30, 2012
For his debut album, Roads, The Voice alumnus Chris Mann weaves together an unexpected mix of classical, country, and pop songs together into an intimate, warm musical tapestry.
If you didn't know, you'd never guess that this is Mann's debut album. His confident, deeply-felt delivery of the songs gives the impression of a veteran singer and performer.
Though most of the songs on this album are covers, Mann presents them as fresh creations, using the artistry of his powerful, expressive voice to make them indelibly his.
Mann duets with his mentor from The Voice, Christina Aguilera, on Damien Rice's "The Blower's Daughter." The song sheds the stripped down, organic feeling of the original in favor of a dramatic, string-filled number, packed with emotion and longing. It'll get stuck in your head long after you've finished listening.
Though I had my doubts as to how successful Mann would be with Willie Nelson's classic "Always on My Mind" - one of my very favorite songs, ever - its intimate, heartfelt and very contemporary delivery brought a freshness to it which I liked very much. (If I were the woman he were singing that to, all would be forgiven!)
Frank Sinatra's iconic and inspirational song, "My Way" - another American classic - is also given new life, and will surely get you tapping your toe and then singing along. It's one of the album's highlights.
The title track, "Roads," written and produced by Keith Thomas, is a moving meditation on staying on your own path while dealing with life's uncertainties, and Mann delivers it with conviction:
Some are long and some are weathered
Some will lead you through a storm
When you've gone astray you will find your way
As you walk along these roads
There are roads in this life that I have traveled
There are scars and there are battles, these I know
Cause I'd be lost but no matter where I go
They will one day lead me home
The album culminates in a song he first performed on "The Voice" - a joyful, sweeping version of Coldplay's "Viva la Vida."
There are original songs here, too: Mann co-wrote the moving ballad, "Falling", a love song, as well as the song "Cuore" (which is based on Bach's "Air on a G String"), showing his deftness with both traditional and contemporary music. His rendition of "Ave Maria" further showcases his love of classical music, and how well suited his voice is to it. It will be fascinating to see the directions in which his career will take him.
(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this album in exchange for a review. However, the opinions stated in the review are honest, and are solely my own. I really liked it and have happily listened to it many times!)