One of many classical crossover releases designed to capitalize on the patriotic spirit that's swept the U.K. in 2012, Suffolk soprano Laura Wright's second solo album, Glorious, has a stronger pedigree than most thanks to the inclusion of the official anthem of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. With its African drums, cinematic strings, and tribal chants, "Stronger as One," the album's only original composition, feels more like a number from The Lion King than a dedication to Britain's second longest-reigning monarch, but other than the delicate fingerpicking acoustic rendition of Bette Midler's "The Rose," the rest of the follow-up to 2011's folk-themed The Last Rose is far more traditional. Alongside rousing choral numbers such as Hubert Parry's "Jerusalem" and Elgar's "Land of Hope and Glory," there are much-loved Celtic ballads "Danny Boy" and the Robert Burns-penned "A Red, Red Rose," a gorgeously elegant interpretation of Vera Lynn's World War II standard "The White Cliffs of Dover," and perhaps unsurprisingly given the current wave of Olympic fever, a suitably anthemic adaptation of Vangelis' classic "Chariots of Fire." An exquisite a cappella reworking of Elgar's "Nimrod," a piece she previously performed on All Angels' second album, Into Paradise, shows just how much her voice has developed since her classical girl band days. And although she's sometimes drowned out by the City of Prague Philharmonic's occasionally bombastic arrangements, particularly on Princess Diana favorite "I Vow to Thee, My Country," Glorious, on the whole, more than justifies its title.
by Jon O'Brien