Released tomorrow morning is the latest collaboration between musical theatre star Kerry Ellis and legendary Queen guitarist Brian May: Golden Days, an album that features five brand new compositions (two by May and three by the pair). The rest of the album is made up of some of their favourite songs, including numbers that are staples of their live shows. These have been reimagined and rearranged to produce a record that has its own sound running through the heart of it, which is a measure of the strength of Ellis and May’s 13-year partnership.
Its first four tracks are all originals, which is a real statement of intent for the rest of the album. It’s fitting that it opens with two of the songs Ellis and May have written together (Love In A Rainbow and Roll With You) – the latter particularly is a great example of a pop rock tune with a catchy riff that instantly gets stuck in your head. The title track is a clever combination of power ballad with a hint of a world music feel, whereas It’s Gonna Be All Right (The Panic Attack Song) is a pounding anthem in which May’s guitar line is absolutely key.
From then we have a steady flow of cover versions, ranging from the traditional Amazing Grace (arranged by May) to songs from the Great American Songbook, courtesy of Lieber and Stoller (a highlight of these being I Who Have Nothing), as well as a lesser known Benny and Björn composition and a Rodgers and Hammerstein classic from Carousel.
But the undoubted standout of the covers has to be May’s tribute to Gary Moore, Parisienne Walkways. An absolute rock classic, May takes Gary Moore’s guitar role and Ellis is on vocals in place of Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott. It is 3 minutes 43 seconds of heaven that allows both to shine: May with his signature guitar sound, and Ellis with perfect vocals.
The final original composition, The Kissing Me Song, is a fast-paced and catchy track that almost leaves you breathless just listening to it. The album is then rounded off with the power ballad Story Of A Heart and a tender acoustic version of Can’t Help Falling In Love.
Golden Days is a well-balanced album that effortlessly blends the new with the old, allowing you to hear classics through May and Ellis’ ears and appreciate their songwriting ability as a combined force. Their sound and drive is so confident that you get the feeling this partnership can only go from strength to strength – I look forward to seeing what they have planned next.
Golden Days is released on 7 April 2017 on Sony Music. You can pre-order the album online.