Slightly tip-toeing away from the mainstream pop sound which saw her cover the likes of Evanescence and Queen on her last record, Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins' eighth studio album, Daydream, is largely a back-to-basics affair which pays homage to several of the songs which have inspired her glittering career. There are still a couple of crossover pop/rock efforts, such as the Radio 2-friendly "Can't Slow Down," the gentle piano balladry of "Your Silhouette," and a faithful cover version of Delta Goodrem's soaring, midtempo "Break It to My Heart." But Jenkins' powerful and enchanting tones have always appeared more comfortable when tackling material closer to her classically trained beginnings than on the attempts to crossover to the MOR pop world, something which she appears to have realized, judging by this fairly traditional set of songs. Alongside several compositions showcasing her multi-lingual skills, including Ennio Morricone's Italian-sung "L'alba Verra (The Dawn Will Come)," a rare French version of Les Miserables' signature tune, "I Dreamed a Dream" ("J'Avais Reve d'Une Autre Vie"), and two tracks recorded in her native Welsh tongue, "Love Divine (Hyfrydol)" and "Blaenwern" (the first time she's sung in Welsh since 2006's Serenade), there are string-soaked renditions of Celtic folk songs "Black Is the Colour" and "Carrickfergus," a brand new interpretation of "Ave Maria," and a moving take of Kismet show tune "And This Is My Beloved." But it's the closing number, "Abigail's Song," which will already be familiar to most Jenkins fans, that her stunning vocal presence really goes up a notch. Backed by some haunting choral chants and a magical arrangement from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, her contribution to the Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol soundtrack is arguably one of the strongest original songs of her career, and is a perfect way to finish a charming, highly personal, and well-crafted affair which proves that Jenkins is at her best when she embraces her classical roots.
by Jon O'Brien
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