A second-season finalist on the television show Britain's Got Talent, Faryl Smith made her full-length debut at the remarkable age of 13 with Faryl, a 12-song album of classical crossover favorites. Produced by Jon Cohen, whose recent work includes albums with classical crossover stars Vanessa-Mae and Opera Babes, Faryl finds the opera sensation accompanied by a 60-piece orchestra. Starting rather predictably with "Amazing Grace," Smith sings with power and perfection, showcasing right away the vocal talent that was praised effusively by Simon Cowell on Britain's Got Talent. "Ave Maria," one of the songs that Smith performed so memorably on television, shows up soon afterward as expected. The Welsh hymn "Calon Lân" also gets a nice airing here. Fortunately, there are a few curiosities sequenced intermittently amid all the classical crossover favorites on Faryl, most notably "River of Light," a new version of "The Blue Danube" with original lyrics. Other surprises include opera versions of ABBA's "The Way Old Friends Do" and John Denver's "Annie's Song." The 60-piece orchestra gets to be a bit overwhelming by the time Faryl reaches its 40-minute conclusion. Classical crossover fans oriented toward popular music rather than classical might find themselves hoping that her next album is more varied in musical style. For sure, Smith is an exceptional mezzo-soprano whose young age makes her vocal talent all the more awe-inspiring, and Faryl is produced with fine precision by Cohen, who is good at giving classical music a pop crossover twist. It's too bad that she isn't given more creative material to sing. One hopes her next album is more adventurous.
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
Meditation on Prelude No. 1 of Bach, for violin or cello & piano with organ or cello ad lib. (or other instrumental arrangement)