Collabro are back with their recently-released fourth album, “Road To The Royal Albert Hall“, so named in honour of their upcoming 2019 concert date which presumably they’re quite happy about (and I’m guessing “Road To Southend-On-Sea” wouldn’t have had quite the same ring. Although I’m sure it’s lovely).
The ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ winners are clearly fans of sticking to what they do, and after 3 albums of theatre covers, they offer here another selection of musical standards with none of the songs coming as a much of a surprise. It’s very much an album of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” thinking, and the track-list ticks through a great selection of shows in 40 minutes (Wicked, Evita, Les Mis, Sunset Boulevard…). There’s no progression or evolution from their earlier albums, but maybe that’s not what Collabro are aiming for. They do theatre covers, and here’s 10 of them.
Many of the song choices are massively individual moments in their respective shows, and having them sung by a group loses some of the power and intent behind the lyrics. The album often feels overproduced, underfelt and somewhat sterile. The boys do sound a bit bored, and there’s no personality or energy in the songs. They sing them but don’t perform them. ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ should be powerful. ‘On My Own’ should be heartbreaking. ‘Defying Gravity’ should be…well, defiant. It’s what I call The Streisand Factor; a sound that is technically competent but comes across cold and emotionless (sorry Barbra). Even the two upbeat numbers from Grease and Jersey Boys never really take off. The harmonies blend well enough but the overall vocal deliveries fall a little flat – they may very well sound better live on the upcoming tour, where the group can hopefully give more life to the songs which unfortunately doesn’t come across when listening to the album and going on the sound alone.
Collabro are obviously doing well, regularly selling out at venues across the country, and if you’re already a fan who likes what the boys do, you’ll like this. If you don’t, you won’t, and you’ll be better off listening to the original cast recordings.
Reviewed by Rob Bartley